I have never had so much fun watching the Toronto Blue Jays play as I did in May.
At the end of May, the Blue Jays sat atop the American League East with a five and a half game lead and were 14 games over 500; an unthinkable feat considering the state of the franchise following last year.
After a miserable 74-88 season and missing the playoffs by a country mile, I still had faith that the Jays were a good team trapped inside of a season that was a burning heap of garbage.
The Blue Jays are everything to me. I was born just outside the Big Smoke and I watched the tape of Joe Carter’s walk-off home run in the 1993 World Series religiously as a kid.
Carlos Delgado, Shawn Green, Shannon Stewart, Orlando Hudson, and Roy Halladay were my guys growing up.
The start of the season seemed to mirror the 2013 Jays. They hobbled out of the gate with a 12-14 record just as all the experts predicted.
Brandon Morrow hit the disabled list earlier than normal, the bats looked unconscious and their once invincible bullpen couldn’t throw a strike.
The games were frustrating to watch, but I kept telling myself that it was too early in the year for a meltdown.
Then something strange happened once the calendar flipped from April to May. They started rolling teams.
To say Jays’ DH/first basemen Edwin Encarnacion exploded in May would be vastly understated.
The 31-year-old slugger must have been praying to Jobu, because once May rolled around he started hitting home runs like he was square dancing, two per game.
Double E swatted 16 home runs to tie an AL record for May, to go with 33 RBI and a .281 average.
I was often caught screaming at my TV and holding my right arm outstretched as he does when he circles the bases after launching pitches into orbit.
The Jays cranked 48 Yahtzees in May which was more than 12 teams have hit this season, nearly half the league.
They have five hitters with more than 10 dingers and an injured Colby Rasmus who has been on the shelf for a month with nine homers.
The most surprising part of this turnaround had to be their starting rotation.
The Jays’ staff led the majors with a 21-9 record, with a 3.74 ERA in May.
They are led by a southpaw topping out at 84 miles per hour, which are considered beach balls in the show.
The rest of their rotation hinges on the edge of catastrophe, with a former Cy Young winner who struggles to keep the ball in the ball park, mixed in with three young arms that have never come close to throwing 150 innings in the bigs.
The unsung hero is Casey (the Janitor) Janssen. The Jays’ closer converted 34 out of 36 save opportunities in 2013. This season he started this year on the DL. His injury appeared to throw the lineup out of whack.
The Jays had relievers in situations that they weren’t comfortable in and they were forced to stretch their starters longer than normal.
Janssen isn’t a Mariano Rivera and he doesn’t throw 96 mph. He throws five pitches for strikes and oozes confidence. I believe Janssen’s return in early May stabilized the pitching staff, which allowed players to return to roles that they were confident in.
It is clear that the Jays had everything go their way in May.
How long can it last? Who knows. They started June losing back-to-back series against the St. Louis Cardinals and the Minnesota Twins of all teams. I’m sure that’s all part of the ebb and flow of the marathon season.
All I can do is hope that the Jays are still in the thick of it when I see them in New York in late July.
Wins in May and June count the same as wins in Aug. and Sept. If the Jays manage to make the playoffs, you better believe I am coming down with some type of jungle fever that will get me out of work so I can fly to Toronto for the first round.
I think I feel something coming on already.