Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Inconsistent Blue Jays Hoping to Bounce Back in Second Half of Season

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Inconsistent Blue Jays Hoping to Bounce Back in Second Half of Season

Article excerpt

Jays looking for consistency in second half

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TORONTO - The Toronto Blue Jays have been at their inconsistent best this season.

The optimism that surrounded the team at the start of the year was nearly snuffed out by a terrible start. An 11-game winning streak brought some much-needed relief and got people talking again. The 43-45 Blue Jays are hovering near the .500 mark and need a second-half surge to get in the playoff mix in the American League East.

This is a team that has as many question marks now as it did in the spring. There have been some big disappointments and some intriguing surprises over the first half of the season.

The new-look starting rotation has struggled more often than not. The bullpen -- thought to be a soft point by many observers at the start of the year -- has been dominant.

Sluggers Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista are posting big numbers again but too many weak points remain through the lineup. First baseman Adam Lind is enjoying a bounceback year and shortstop Jose Reyes has impressed with the bat and the glove.

Injuries have taken a big toll and forced manager John Gibbons to be creative with his lineup.

So is this the squad that was among the worst in the major leagues over the first six weeks of the season? Or is it the one that looked as if it couldn't be stopped last month?

It's hard to tell.

"Well that little run we made in the last few weeks, we're resilient, we could have disappeared," Gibbons said in a recent interview. "We're still on that fringe, we can go one way or the other so we need to play good baseball from here on out.

"It would have been easy to really just disappear but they didn't do that. They show up to play every day and that's all we can ask for."

The rotation looked so deep in early April that there were several candidates for the ace title. However, the performances have been so uneven since that the team doesn't have a clear No. 1 starter.

R.A. Dickey has only shown flashes of his Cy Young form. Josh Johnson missed seven weeks with triceps inflammation and has yet to get on track.

Mark Buehrle soaks up innings but often allows a lot of earned runs. Brandon Morrow was mediocre before going down with a forearm injury and J. …

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