Blue Jays Soaring High

Nick MurphyContributor IMay 8, 2009

TORONTO - APRIL 6: (L-R) Lyle Overbay #35, Scott Rolen #33, Travis Snider #45, Aaron Hill #2 of the Toronto Blue Jays celebrate the win over the Detroit Tigers during the Opening Day game at the Rogers Centre on April 6, 2009 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by: Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

Even the most optimistic Blue Jay fan couldn't have predicted just how well the boys in blue would start off this season.

After the first month they had a record of 17-9 and stood atop of the American League East, a sport hard to come by in a division that includes the Red Sox and the Yankees. That record has now improved to 20-11 after splitting a pair of games against the Angels of Anaheim.

Canadian Pitcher Scott Richmond was also just named the AL rookie of the month for April after winning his first four starts, something only three other rookies have done in Blue Jays' history.

Not too shabby.

It seems like such a turn around when many of baseball's top journalists predicted they'd do poorly at best and some dared to say they could even finish last.

So what is it that lit a fire under the Jays that has caused them to be such a surprise? How have they done so well after being so mediocre the past ten years?

Why Now? Whats so different about this team from last years team? And will they be able to sustain this level of success?

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The answer is yes.

And I'll answer all these questions with one good reason. In fact I'll give you five.

1. Cito Gaston

If Bo knows baseball then Cito knows more then Bo. His knowledge of the game and his ability to make the right calls at the right time is impeccable.

There's a reason why the Jays won back to back championships in the 90's with Cito steering the ship. Not only is he a great leader but he's a pretty experienced hitting coach as well.

2. Great Pitching

"Doc" Halladay is back at it again this year going 5-1 in his first six starts. To put it simply; he's a rock.

Roy continues to prove himself as one of MLB's top pitchers striking out 38 batters in a total of 44 innings pitched. They call him Doc because of his last name but maybe it should be because he's so intelligently wise like a skilled surgeon.

Not only has Halladay been phenomenal but obviously the aforementioned Scott Richmond deserves some credit as well along with Rickey Romero and Jason Frasor; who is 4-0 with an ERA of 0.79 after 11 innings on the mound.

3. The Aaron and Adam Show

Aaron Hill and Adam Lind have been on a hitting spree so far this season. They're getting more hits then that video of Susan Boyle on you-tube.

At last count Lind had a total of 29 RBI's with six homers and Hill has 28 RBI's with 8 dingers, all of it occurring in the first 30 or so games. Hill also leads the team in hits with a total of 50.

4. Team Work and Perseverance

No matter what the score is in the game the team just doesn't quit. Whether they are up by seven or down by nine they still pull together to try and pull off a win.

There have been six games so far this year where the team has only won by one run, all of which could have gone either way but didn't. The teams camaraderie is up and it shows in their game play.  It also helps when the first six in the batting line up are all have over 30 hits.

5. The X Factor

Although no one on the team may admit it, no one expected they would be at the top of the standings but now that they are there they like it. They see now that they can win and it gives them the confidence of kings.

Not only that but the team didn't really change much in the off season. Owner J.P. Riccardi had the chance to throw some money around and try to make some moves but in the eye of financial unnerve he decided to not make any moves at all and keep the team together making them a more tightly knit unit. If the Jays continue in their success you might see more owners take up this practice in the future.

Not everything is going smoothly though as the team has had to rely on some young pitchers to step their game up and fill in for injured starters like Jesse Litsch.  Up and coming hope full David Prucey hasn't had a very good start either after losing his first outings and earning an ERA of 7.01 . He'll have to turn things around soon if he doesn't want to be sent back to the minors quicker then you can say disappointment.

May will be a test for the Jays that will show whether or not they had beginners luck or if they really have something going for them. With a 16 straight day schedule against teams like the Yankees, the Braves and the Red Sox the Jays certainly have their work cut out for them. After only losing one series so far this year it would be great to see the Blue birds keep it up against their division rivals.

My prediction?

Toronto will get to see something they havn't in years.

Playoff Baseball.


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