Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Atrocious April in the Past, Blue Jays Looking to Build on May Momentum

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Atrocious April in the Past, Blue Jays Looking to Build on May Momentum

Article excerpt

Blue Jays looking to build on May momentum

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TORONTO - A bounceback May has left the Toronto Blue Jays' atrocious April in the past. Their play in June may provide the best indicator yet of whether this team is primed to be a contender or pretender this season.

There is definitely some spring in the step of the Blue Jays thanks to a run of eight wins in nine games that capped an impressive 18-10 month.

"Hopefully from here on out we play good steady ball for the next four months and see where it takes us," said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons.

Injuries were a major problem in the early going and the disabled list still includes outfielder Steve Pearce (calf) and starting pitchers Aaron Sanchez (finger) and Francisco Liriano (shoulder), although the latter is expected to return Friday.

The Blue Jays won just two of their first 13 games and were an eyebrow-raising 10 1/2 games out of the division lead on May 9 at 12-21. Injured stars like Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki eventually returned to the lineup, players emerged from their slumps, and balls that fell near the warning track in April were clearing the fences in May.

"It was a really rough month of April, that's no exaggeration," Gibbons said. "We could have buried ourselves."

The homer-heavy formula that has taken the Blue Jays to the American League Championship Series the last two years is working again. Decent starting pitching and a resurgent bullpen have helped too.

Backups like Ryan Goins, Ezequiel Carrera and Darwin Barney played well after being forced into everyday roles. The lineup has slowly returned to its normal look and team confidence has grown along the way.

"Gibby was preaching to us the whole time to stay the course, don't fall off, keep plugging and things are going to turn around," said second baseman Devon Travis. "The guys really took to that. …

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