Blue Jays eye 10th straight win versus Royals
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Toronto Blue Jays go after their 10th straight win on Thursday when they kick off a four-game series versus the Kansas City Royals at Rogers Centre.
Toronto has relied on the home run for the better part of its winning streak, but on Wednesday found a new way to win, as Anthony Gose's ninth-inning bunt proved to be the game-winner as the Blue Jays defeated the Tampa Bay Rays, 3-2, to complete the series sweep.
Dioner Navarro led off the bottom of the ninth with a single to right and was replaced by pinch-runner Kevin Pillar. Gose then laid down a bunt toward the first-base line.
Pitcher Juan Carlos Oviedo (1-1) picked up the ball and whipped it wide right of first baseman James Loney. Pillar hustled from first and dove headfirst at home plate to elude the tag of catcher Roman Solis as the Blue Jays notched their third straight series sweep.
"It's a pretty exciting win all around for the team," said Gose.
Edwin Encarnacion drove in two runs and Jose Reyes supplied three hits for Toronto while Aaron Loup (2-1) earned the win after pitching a scoreless top of the ninth. Starter Liam Hendriks gave up two runs on three hits with five strikeouts in six innings of work.
The Blue Jays, who won 11 games in a row last June, have won 14 of their past 16 games and 19 of 24 overall. They are also just one win shy of the franchise mark for a single month, which was set at 21 in May 2003.
Toronto may stay in the win column on Thursday, as it hands the ball to former National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey, who had his best outing of the season on Saturday. Dickey won for the fourth time in his last five decisions, as he beat Oakland, holding the A's to a pair of runs and five hits in 8 1/3 innings. He is now 5-4 on the year with a 3.95 ERA.
Dickey has faced the Royals 12 times (6 starts) and is 3-3 against them with a 4.33 ERA.
Kansas City, meanwhile, will counter with an impressive veteran of its own in righty James Shields, who is 6-3 with a 2.95 ERA. Shields has won six of his last seven decisions, but did not receive one on Saturday in Anaheim, as the Angels reached him for four runs in six innings of his team's 7-4 win.
Shields is 12-6 lifetime versus the Blue Jays with a 3.09 ERA in 23 starts. He's been dominant lately against them, though, posting a 6-1 mark over his last eight matchups with a 1.13 ERA - the lowest among pitchers with at least five starts against the Blue Jays since the start of 2011.
Kansas City enters this tilt on a bit of a sour note, as it has dropped four in a row after getting swept in a three-game set by the Houston Astros. The Royals were outscored 21-5 in the series with the Astros and lost, 9-3, on Wednesday.
"Right now we are not doing our job at the plate, but we will get better," said Royals outfielder Jarrod Dyson.
The Royals took two of three from the Jays earlier this season.
05/29 10:36:03 ET