Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Blue Jays Use 7-Run Inning to Beat Orioles, Jump into First Place in AL East

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Blue Jays Use 7-Run Inning to Beat Orioles, Jump into First Place in AL East

Article excerpt

Blue Jays take 1st place in AL East with win

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TORONTO - The Toronto Blue Jays are rounding into form at the right time.

They were rewarded for it on Saturday with sole possession of first place in the American League East.

Devon Travis hit a home run, Kevin Pillar drove in four, and the Blue Jays used a seven-run fifth inning en route to a 9-1 victory over Baltimore that moved them a half-game up on the Orioles for top spot in the division for the first time since early April.

"We're starting to play some good baseball, and that's really what it comes down to, playing good baseball at the right time," said Pillar. "It's definitely something to be celebrated."

With a third of the season still to be played, the Blue Jays seemed to be taking the achievement in stride.

Toronto's run to close out last season did not start until this time last year. While enjoying the position that they are in, they are encouraged by what got them there.

"It means we're playing good baseball," said catcher Russell Martin, who had a pair of doubles. "There's still a lot of baseball left. But I think we're starting to play good ball. We're swinging the bats well. We're playing good defence. And we're pitching well.

"What I like about this team is the consistency of our starting pitching. I feel like it's been that way all year. If you want to be on a winning team, one of the main things you want to have is pitching."

Saturday's starter, J.A. Happ, improved to 14-3 on the year, tying the league lead in wins with four other pitchers. He also matched a season high with 11 strikeouts, going seven-plus innings while allowing only three hits.

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons called Happ's performance "dominant."

Martin echoed that sentiment.

"His fastball was just exploding toward the plate," Martin said. "It was a good mix of his two-seamer and his four-seamer. ... When you're aggressive and you get ahead of hitters, you can take a good hitter and take away the aggressiveness a little bit. …

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