Blue Jays complete sweep of Rangers on the road

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Behind Chien-Ming Wang’s seven shut-out innings and a trio of home runs, the Blue Jays downed the Rangers 7-2 this afternoon to complete a four-game series sweep in Texas. The Jays have won five in a row and eight of their last ten, slowly climbing their way back into AL East contention. They now sit 8.5 games behind the first-place Red Sox and 3.5 games behind the fourth-place Rays.

Over the last four games, Jays starters have compiled 26.2 innings and allowed just two earned runs (0.67 ERA). Colby Rasmus has hit four home runs in his last six games, while Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Adam Lind have continued to act as pillars in the lineup.

Many wrote the Jays off when they fell to 10-21 on May 4, but it’s a long season. The Jays are hitting their stride now and the rest of the AL East would be foolish to sleep on them.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.