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Jays offence fires on all cylinders


Jays offence fires on all cylinders
Baseball REPORTER

Toronto Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston was concerned what the fallout might be as he watched his high-octane offence operate at full throttle during a thumping of the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday.

"We'll see if we can get some runs for Doc," Gaston said at the time, referring to Roy Halladay, the ace of the team who was carrying Toronto's hopes into last night's series finale here at the Metrodome.

Halladay being Halladay, an efficient sort whose nine complete games last season are evidence that he often finishes what he starts, usually doesn't require much in the way of run support.

As it turned out, the Blue Jays (8-3) had more than a little bit left in the tank for their dependable right-hander, banging out 14 hits, including a grand slam by Kevin Millar, to embarrass Minnesota (4-7) once again, this time 9-2.

The win put an exclamation point on a stellar road trip for the Blue Jays to begin the season, taking two of three from the Indians in Cleveland before winning three of four against the Twins.

The Jays began the year by winning three of four at home off the Detroit Tigers.

"Even the games we've lost this year so far we've had a chance to win them," Toronto manager Cito Gaston said. "We've been in every game and that's all you can ask."

"It's been great, everybody's clicking," Millar added. "When you swing the bats well, everybody feeds off it.

"I think, right now, this team's done a good job of coming in and taking series. That's three straight now."

The American League East front-runners will now return to Toronto for a six-game homestand beginning tonight against the Oakland Athletics at the Rogers Centre.

Halladay was the prime beneficiary of the torrid offence, gaining his third successive victory while limiting the Twins to only one run off eight hits while striking out eight in seven innings.

And his steely resolve was on display after Aaron Hill had singled home Jose Bautista to put Toronto in front 2-1 in the top of the fifth.

Halladay gave up a leadoff single to Brendan Harris, who moved to second when Halladay grazed Denard Span with a pitch.

Halladay felt Span was out swinging on the play and was just a bit ticked. So he proceeded to strike out Alexi Casilla, Justin Morneau and then Jason Kubel - on a total of 10 pitches - to quickly rectify matters.

"Just Doc," Gaston said with the proper reverence. "Good pitchers, when they get in a jam, they know how to get themselves out of it.

"A manager's dream - to have five guys like that."

The story of the Blue Jays early-season rise to respectability has been their unstoppable offence. Toronto entered last night's game leading the majors in hitting with a team average of .313.

The Jays were also No. 1 in doubles (25), total bases (194), and were second in runs (68), home runs (17) and slugging (.533).

In the series against the Twins, Toronto's dominance was overwhelming, outscoring Minnesota 31-13 while out-hitting it 56-36.

The 56 hits came up only two shy of the team record of 58 in a four-game series, set back in April of 2000 against Anaheim.

Gaston said he sees no reason why the Jays can't keep up the pace.

"There's a little different thought about hitting here right now as far as how we're going to be aggressive all the time and go up there and make sure you get the pitch that you want to hit and have a plan when you walk up there," he said. "And we preach that every day to those guys."

*****

ON DECK

NOTES The Blue Jays play the Oakland Athletics tonight in the first of a three-game set in Toronto. ... ... David Purcey had 10 strikeouts, but also six walks, in 42/3 innings in his last outing on Sunday in Cleveland. "Obviously, he walked six guys," Toronto general manager J.P. Ricciardi said. "But there are not many guys in the big leagues that can go out in half a game and strike out 10." ... Kelly Gruber, who was the Blue Jays' third baseman during their first run to the World Series in 1992, will be the special guest at the Flashback Friday game.

NEXT Today, Oakland Athletics at Rogers Centre, 7:07 p.m. EDT

PROBABLE PITCHERS Jays LHP David Purcey (0-1, 4.63 ERA) v. A's LHP Josh Outman (0-0, 6.23)

TV Sportsnet

Robert MacLeod


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 17, 2009

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