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Bombs keep Blue Jays winning streak alive 0

By Bob Elliott, Toronto Sun

A good time was had by all, as last season’s master plan continues to unfold.

Adam Lind and Edwin Encarnacion hit back-to-back homers off Alex Cobb.

Lefty Mark Buehrle befuddled hitters.

The Jose Reyes indoor track meet continued with his 11th steal and two more runs scored.

The Jays won their eighth straight game, 9-6 over the Tampa Bay Rays, on Tuesday night. It was their 13th victory in their past 15 games and 15,993 fans were at Rogers Centre to see it.

Yes, it’s about to get crowded on the bandwagon. Whuppin’ the Texas Rangers and the Boston Red Sox was one thing, but skeptics wondered: How would they do against first-place Oakland and the Rays? The Jays swept the A’s and will try to do the same Wednesday night against the Rays.

A good time was had by all.

Everyone except battered-and-bruised catcher Dioner Navarro. On his follow through, the bat of Jose Molina, another card-carrying member of the catcher’s union, hit the knuckle of Navarro’s index finger. Navarro staggered towards the mound before being attended to.

Was Buehrle laughing at you?

“I’ll check the video,” Navarro told reporters. “And if he was ... I’ll tell him that I throw harder than he does.”

Infielder Brett Lawrie confirmed that there were some mound giggles. While they were worried about Navarro, Buehrle told Lawrie how he could go hunting in the woods and shoot an animal, but “he’d pass out if he ever broke a finger.”

Blood-and-guts Buehrle pitched 62/3 innings, allowing three earned runs and leaving to a standing ovation becoming the first Jays starter to win nine of his first 11 starts since Roger Clemens in 1997.

“Taking nothing away from the year Edwin or anyone else is having, the guy who has made the most impact is (Navarro),” said Anthony Gose, “the way he calls a game and handles pitchers.”

THAT GOOD

How good are the Jays going when the bullpen was not automatic and Buehrle, who warms up to The Wind

by The Zac Brown band, did not have his best arsenal?

Well Lind legged out an infield hit after Jose Bautista was issued an intentional walk with a man on first. (And the Zac Brown Band is coming to Toronto when the Jays have an off-day!)

Walking a hitter with a man on first? We haven’t seen that since Barry Bonds’ home run chase.

A year ago the experts figured the Jays had the best talent in the American League East and the Boston Red Sox had the least.

It only took one Boston World Series, a 74-win season for the all-in Blue Jays, and a below sea level first five weeks of the season for their evaluations to come true.

“Everyone is in a better frame of mind,” said Brett Cecil, who had a scoreless outing. “Last year we were going out hoping to win. This season we’re expecting to win. And if we lose one game, we know it isn’t the end of the world.”

THE NUMBERS

Juan Francisco hit his ninth homer, so along with Lind and Encarnacion the three Jays bombs means they have out-homered the opposition 40-20 during their winning streak, and outscored it 122-86 ... The win ran Buehrle’s record to 4-1 with a 3.12 ERA against the AL East. A year ago after the first two months he was 0-2 with a 6.07 ERA against the AL East teams.

IN GAME

Casey Janssen converted his eighth save and 23rd consecutive ... Steve Delabar faced six hitters in an inning of work, allowing two runs in the eighth ... Buehrle fanned Wil Myers looking on an 87-mph two-seamer, the eighth pitch of the at-bat, which featured four curve balls, two two-seam fastballs and a cutter (ranging from 70 to 85 mph) ... It may have been the homers by Lind and Bautista which chased starter Alex Cobb, but Reyes felled the Rays right-hander the way heavyweight Randall (Tex) Cobb used to go down in the middle of the ring. Reyes lined a single off Cobb’s hip in the fifth with the score tied 2-2. An out later Bautista singled through short to give the Jays the lead ... Lawrie’s single to right on a 3-2 pitch scored Lind to break Cobb’s club record scoreless inning streak at 232/3 innings ... Matt Joyce had zero sacrifice bunts in 2,213 plate appearances in his seven years in the majors. He still has zero fouling off a two-strike bunt attempt to move Molina into scoring position in the third ... Lind looked like he needed a helmet and a GPS after over-running a foul pop off the bat of Evan Longoria in the first. After a walk, Lind was sure handed on a Desmond Jennings’ pop up.

THINKING BACK

Question of the day:

And the last time you were on team in first place this late in the season?

Brett Cecil: “Class-A Auburn (2007).”

Dustin McGowan: “Double-A New Haven (2003), we played at Yale Field. Not a real good ball park, but it was a great place to pitch.”

Aaron Loup: “Either Little League or high school, probably high school ... the Hahnville High Tigers in Boutte, La. (2006).”

Adam Lind: “Yesterday. Oh you mean before this year? Class-A Dunedin (2005.)”

In other words ... a long time for a lot of players.

bob.elliott@sunmedia.ca

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