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.
Yankees first baseman Greg Bird gave his team tons of confidence to hand him the everyday job at first base to start the 2017 regular season, batting .451/.556/1.098 with eight home runs in 51 spring at-bats. But he’s followed that up by hitting .107/.254/.214 through the first month of the regular season.
GM Brian Cashman doesn’t have any intent to demote Bird back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports. Cashman said, “It’s not even an option for me in my mind right now, at all.”
Bird didn’t start Sunday’s game against the Orioles, a 7-4 loss in 11 innings. Lefty Wade Miley started for the Orioles, prompting manager Joe Girardi to put Chris Carter into the lineup at first base. If Bird isn’t able to figure things out, Carter might have an increased role on the team.
Rays starter Chris Archer threw his first pitch to Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista behind the slugger’s back with one out in the first inning of Sunday afternoon’s game in Toronto. Bautista and Archer then had a staredown. Home plate umpire Jim Wolf issued warnings to both teams. Bautista ultimately flied out to right field and he appeared to have a quick word with Archer on his way back to the dugout.
Archer could have been exacting revenge — euphemistically known as “protecting his teammate” — because Jays reliever Joe Biagini hit Rays outfielder Steven Souza in the seventh inning of Saturday’s game. Souza was forced to leave the game and underwent an X-ray, which came back negative. He was held out of Sunday’s lineup. Biagini’s pitch did not appear to be intentional.
The Jays won Sunday’s contest 3-1 with no further incident. The two clubs meet again in Tampa for a three-game series starting on May 5, so we’ll see if Sunday was the last of the bad blood between them.