It may not mean much, but boy, does it feel good.
The Toronto Blue Jays win. Against the Chicago White Sox, the worst team in the American League, the 5-1 win on Wednesday afternoon signifies little. Toronto remains last in the AL East and 5.5 games back of the second wild-card spot, likely out of reach of any postseason berth.
But it was fun.
Everything — the pitching, hitting and defense — clicked.
J.A. Happ, starting the game for Toronto, threw seven innings of one-run ball, walking one. The last time Happ struck out 10 batters was on July 30th, 2016 against the Baltimore Orioles, just more than a year prior to Wednesday’s start. The seven innings Happ threw is tied for the most in one of his starts this season.
Josh Donaldson continued to heat up, hitting a home run and taking two walks in three at-bats. In the entire White Sox - Blue Jays series, Donaldson hit three home runs, a double and walked three times. He collected five total hits.
The majority of Toronto’s scoring came in the top of the eighth. Steve Pearce, the author of a home run earlier in the game, walked, followed by a single from Kevin Pillar. Russell Martin, in for the injured Miguel Montero (groin strain), singled to score the Blue Jays’ first run in the inning, and a wild pitch scored the second.
Most of the Blue Jays’ runs can be attributed to Chicago’s starter Derek Holland. In his 10 starts before Wednesday, Holland posted a 9.46 ERA and pitched into the sixth inning just four times over that span.
In fact, one can argue that Toronto should have scored more. Holland’s debatably been one of the worst starting pitchers in Major League Baseball since the start of June, and the team only mustered two runs over six innings against him.
It goes beyond Holland. Throughout the entire three game series, Toronto has struggled to consistently beat up on a team that the worst in the American League.
On Monday, the Blue Jays surrendered a six-run lead in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings to lose the game. On Tuesday, the White Sox threatened in the eighth and ninth innings. Again, on Wednesday, the narrative remained: Chicago had runners in scoring position in the eighth and ninth, but didn’t score.
It’s a win. And it’s fun. But against the worst team in the American League, it should go without question that the Blue Jays need to win, and win big.
Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkColley.