Mark Buehrle 's first season with the Toronto Blue Jays has mirrored that of his team. It was mostly very disappointing until recently.
The 14-year veteran could improve to .500 and help the Blue Jays get within a game of that mark if their longest winning streak in nearly five years continues Wednesday night against the Colorado Rockies .
Buehrle (3-4, 4.66 ERA), who hasn't finished under .500 since 2006, has reached at least 13 wins in five straight seasons but is on pace to fall short of double digits. That's due greatly to a 1-3 record and 6.33 ERA through his first nine starts.
The left-hander served up 11 homers in that span but has since allowed one in 33 innings, going 2-1 with a 1.91 ERA in five starts - four Toronto victories.
"It's not like he's come out of nowhere," manager John Gibbons said. "But he's got to be on as good a roll as anybody in baseball."
So are the Blue Jays (34-36), whose seven-game winning streak is their best since posting 10 consecutive victories Aug. 30-Sept. 9, 2008. This run has pushed Toronto within one win of .500 for the first time since mid-April, and the team has been below the break-even mark since July despite many big-name acquisitions - including Buehrle.
His best performance in a Blue Jays uniform came Friday, giving up four hits and striking out seven in seven innings of an 8-0 win at Texas.
That's part of an outstanding run by the Toronto staff, posting a 0.67 ERA in the last six games and holding opponents to a .192 average.
"If we could do that all year, we wouldn't lose a game, I bet," Buehrle told the team's official website. "... I wouldn't expect to keep this rate up for too much."
While Blue Jays pitchers haven't allowed a home run in 52 consecutive innings, their lineup has hit 15 in the past eight games after a three-homer effort Tuesday in an 8-3 victory over the Rockies. J.P. Arencibia homered for the third time in four games, Edwin Encarnacion hit his team-leading 19th and Maicer Izturis went deep to give him a .333 average in the last eight games.
Colorado (37-35), on the other hand, has yet to homer in this series and now looks to avoid another three-game sweep in Toronto. The Rockies have hit .176 in losing all eight games they've played there.
Nicasio is winless in his past five starts due largely to struggles as the game goes deeper. He's given up a combined six runs through the first five innings but has allowed 11 after that - and he's yet to pitch past the sixth this season.
"He's had some struggles after the fifth," manager Walt Weiss said. "He's been dominant at times early then run into some trouble in the sixth inning."
Buehrle has had no such trouble lately, and he's 1-0 with a 3.68 ERA in two starts versus the Rockies.
No one has faced him more than Michael Cuddyer , who has gone 34 for 107 (.318) against Buehrle and enters this matchup riding a career-high, 16-game hitting streak.
Fellow Rockies outfielder Dexter Fowler (finger) did not start for the third time in five games Tuesday and his status for this game is uncertain.
|June 14, 2013||Troy Tulowitzki||15-Day DL||Fractured rib, right ribcage|
|June 13, 2013||Troy Tulowitzki||Day-to-Day||Broken rib|
|June 13, 2013||Carlos Gonzalez||Day-to-Day||Bruised left foot|
|June 13, 2013||Dexter Fowler||Day-to-Day||Hand|
|June 11, 2013||Jorge De La Rosa||Day-to-Day||Cut on left middle finger|
|June 10, 2013||Edgmer Escalona||15-Day DL||Right elbow inflammation|
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|June 03, 2013||Ramon Ortiz||15-Day DL||Right elbow strain|
|June 02, 2013||Ramon Ortiz||Day-to-Day||Left game - right elbow|
|June 01, 2013||Brandon Morrow||15-Day DL||Right forearm strain|
|May 28, 2013||Brett Lawrie||15-Day DL||Left ankle sprain|
|May 28, 2013||Brett Lawrie||Day-to-Day||Ankle sprain|
|May 19, 2013||Darren Oliver||15-Day DL||Left shoulder strain|
TORONTO (AP) -- Mark Buehrle doesn't need to understand why Toronto is on its longest winning streak in almost five years to know it's a good thing.
Adam Lind hit a three-run home run, Buehrle won his second straight start and the Blue Jays earned their eighth consecutive victory Wednesday, beating the Colorado Rockies 5-2 to complete a three-game sweep.
"Everything is clicking right now for us," Buehrle said. "I can't pinpoint why everything is clicking, but we're getting a big hit, getting a big pitch when we need to, guys are playing great defense behind us. I don't know what's happening, but hopefully (we) continue it as long as we can."
The eight-game streak is Toronto's longest since a 10-game run in late 2008.
"You almost hate to have that day off tomorrow," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.
Toronto is still last in the AL East, but is within one game of .500 at 35-36. The Blue Jays will host Baltimore on Friday, the first of 10 consecutive games against division opponents.
Buehrle (4-4) allowed two runs and eight hits in five innings of the interleague game. The left-hander, who walked one and struck out four, failed to pitch at least six innings for the first time since April 25.
"There were just a lot of pitches I got away with today," Buehrle said. "Earlier in the season that wasn't happening. Those pitches were getting hit for home runs and getting us down in a hole early."
Neil Wagner pitched the sixth, Brett Cecil worked the seventh, Steve Delabar handled the eighth and Casey Janssen finished for his 16th save in 17 chances.
Toronto's bullpen has pitched 24 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run.
"What can you say?" Gibbons said. "We've been saying it over and over every day. There's going to be times when they're going to give up some runs, but right now they're on some kind of roll."
No one is on more of a roll than Cecil. The lefty has retired 38 batters without allowing a hit, the longest streak in Blue Jays history. David Cone retired 36 straight batters without giving up a hit in 1995.
Carlos Gonzalez hit his NL-leading 21st home run for the Rockies, who lost for the sixth time in eight games.
"This series, we didn't play good baseball at all," Gonzalez said. "They pitched well, they scored a lot of runs."
In the 15 times the Blue Jays and Rockies have played, the visiting team has never won. Toronto also swept Colorado in 2002 and 2007, while the Blue Jays were swept at Coors Field in 2006 and 2010.
Lind gave the Blue Jays an early lead against Colorado starter Juan Nicasio . Jose Bautista reached on third baseman Nolan Arenado 's throwing error in the first, Edwin Encarnacion followed with a single and Lind hammered a changeup to right for his ninth homer.
"It didn't move at all, it just stayed flat," Rockies catcher Yorvit Torrealba said of the pitch Lind hit out. "It looked more like a BP fastball, to be honest with you."
The Rockies got one back in the second when Jordan Pacheco hit a leadoff double and scored on Torrealba's single.
Toronto took advantage of another Rockies error to make it 4-1 in the fourth. Colby Rasmus drew a leadoff walk and Maicer Izturis was safe when second baseman D.J. LeMahieu couldn't handle a potential double play grounder. Rasmus went to third on the play and scored on Emilio Bonifacio 's grounder.
Gonzalez made it 4-2 with a leadoff homer in the fifth, his NL-leading 44th extra base hit. Gonzalez also hit a two-out double in the ninth.
Nicasio (4-3) allowed four runs (two earned) and four hits in five innings. The right-hander, who has not won in six starts, walked one and struck out three.
"I thought Juan did a good job," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "A couple of tough breaks behind him, but I thought he pitched well."
Toronto added an insurance run off reliever Rob Scahill in the seventh. Munenori Kawasaki hit a one-out triple and scored when Melky Cabrera singled through the drawn-in infield.
NOTES: After playing three games with Class-A Dunedin, Blue Jays SS Jose Reyes (left ankle) will take Thursday off, then join Triple-A Buffalo for three games starting Friday, Gibbons said. The four-time All-Star could be activated in time for Monday's game at Tampa Bay. ... Rockies OF Dexter Fowler (right ring finger) missed his second straight game. Fowler has been sore since being hit on the hand by a pitch last week. ... Colorado's Michael Cuddyer extended his hitting streak to a career-high 17 games with a single in the first. ... Toronto 3B Brett Lawrie (left ankle) fielded grounders and took batting practice Wednesday. Lawrie has been out since May 28. ... Tests on Blue Jays RHP Brandon Morrow 's sore forearm revealed inflammation. Morrow's rehab assignment was shut down after he complained of soreness during a two-inning stint at Dunedin on Monday.