May 23, 2014 9:18 pm
Updated: May 24, 2014 12:18 pm

Blue Jays lead AL East for first time in 5 years


TORONTO – For the first time in five years, the Toronto Blue Jays are in sole possession of first place in the American League East, a game and a half ahead of the Baltimore Orioles.

The Jays followed a sweep of the Boston Red Sox in Boston by taking the first of three games against the Oakland Athletics, 3-2 Friday night. The Jays have won nine of their last 11 games.

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“The bottom line is we’re playing good baseball,” said a smiling Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. “We’re hitting some home runs, doing a lot of little things right. And for the most part our defence has been very good. That usually adds up to wins.”

Toronto’s offence has stepped up to the plate in helping the Jays grab first in the east. They lead the major leagues in homes runs with 67, with a .445 slugging percentage.

Winning on the field has brought not only confidence to the Jays organization, but makes playing the game more fun.

“There’s a better energy. Everybody is happy and excited to come to the park every day,” said outfielder Jose Bautista. “It’s a much better environment to be around when you’re winning than losing. So everyone is enjoying it a lot more.”

While some of the Jays success can be chalked up to a struggling division, Jays’ fans -who haven’t seen their team reach the post-season since winning the 1993 World Series- are excited to see some wins heading into the end of May.

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“It’s great to see them have some success this year. I’m looking forward to that and maybe see them get to the post season,” said a Blue Jays fan outside the Rogers Centre.

The Jays’ have nine more games at home before hitting the road again.

The Blue Jays called up Aussie Liam Hendriks to start Friday night’s. It was his Blue Jays debut. Hendriks gave up one run over 5-2/3 innings and was credited with the win.

To make room for Hendriks, the Jays dropped reliever Esmil Rogers, who was designated for assignment.

*With files from Rob Leth, Andrew Russell



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