There have been few occasions this season when the Toronto Blue Jays enjoyed a treasure trove of riches in one game.
Sunday was one of those days.
In dispatching the woeful Baltimore Orioles 13-3 at Rogers Centre for a four-game sweep, it was difficult to pinpoint a single highlight out of many.
Certainly, Curtis Granderson’s offensive outburst was one. The 37-year-old enjoyed a career game, which is saying a lot for the gentlemanly three-time all-star.
Batting leadoff as the designated hitter, Granderson went 4-for-5 plus a walk, pounding out a home run and a double.
Granderson finished with six runs batted in, the most he has totalled in one game in a 15-year career that spans 1,849 games.
Then there was Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada.
Often erratic this season, and having lost his past five decisions, Estrada seems to have found his stride with a second successive solid outing. He allowed two runs on four hits over six-plus innings.
Mixing in his devastating changeup with his fastball, Estrada (3-6) also struck out nine Baltimore batters, his season high.
The Blue Jays finished with a season-high four home runs – Kendrys Morales, Teoscar Hernandez and Kevin Pillar also contributed – as part of the season-high 19 hits.
And sure, all the highlights came against a horrible Baltimore team, which has the worst record in the major leagues.
But a four-game win streak for Blue Jays, which came after 33 consecutive games without back-to-back wins, surely helped soothe the team’s soul.
“Some of us don’t live in the past,” Gibbons said afterward when asked how nice it was to play a game in which everything went right for once.
“Today was one of those games where everything worked. Marco was really, really good, the offence really came to life. We played a good series, there’s no doubt about that. We were overdue.”
The win, combined with Tampa Bay’s 5-4 loss to Seattle, has allowed the Blue Jays to leapfrog over the Rays into third place in the American League East by half a game. The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox lead the way by a country mile.
Toronto heads into Tampa Bay to begin a three-game series in St. Petersburg, Fla., starting Monday night.
Granderson said he had no idea until after the game that his six RBIs was a career high.
“The cool thing about this game is every time you do step on the field something could happen that’s never happened before,” he said. “And sure enough that ended up happening today for me.”
Randal Grichuk continued his red-hot hitting, pounding out three hits for the second time in his past four games. He has 10 hits over his past six games, with three home runs and three doubles.
Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson missed his 10th consecutive game recovering from left calf tightness. Donaldson is considered close to returning and will travel with the team to Florida.
And Devon Travis missed his second straight game after coming down with knee pain. Travis injured himself following a near collision with Pillar trying to track down a fly ball in shallow centre field in Friday’s game.
Estrada cruised along early on Sunday, recording strikeouts to four of the first six batters he faced over the first two innings.
Unfortunately for Estrada, the seventh batter, Trey Mancini, teed off on one of the pitcher’s 77-mile-an-hour changeups, depositing the ball over the wall in centre for a home run and a 1-0 Baltimore lead in the second. Estrada also gave up a home run to Jonathan Schoop in the seventh, about his only two missteps on Sunday.
“We’re pitching great, we’re pitching the way we’re supposed to be,” Estrada said. The Jays starters, who have struggled this season, have now had seven consecutive quality starts. “We have a really good rotation and it’s showing as of late.”
Toronto got on the board in the bottom of the second inning when Granderson doubled to left, which brought in two runs to move his team in front 2-1.
Morales, making his sixth start at first base, brought the score to 3-1 in the third when he skied a home run to the opposite field in left, his fifth of the season.
The Blue Jays sealed the deal with a six-run fourth inning when they sent 11 batters to the plate and pounded out seven hits, including a three-run homer by Granderson.