Blue Jays racking up the jacks

Blue Jays racking up the jacks

TORONTO -- Home runs create instant offense. Unfortunately for the Blue Jays, who have struggled mightily to clear the fence on a consistent basis this season, they've had to work a little harder to locate their runs.

Over the past week, though, Toronto has found its power stroke, helping to piece together one of the club's strongest stretches of the year. Entering Wednesday's tilt against the Yankees, the Blue Jays had managed at least one home run in a season-high seven consecutive games.

During that span, Toronto posted a 6-1 record, pushing the club's season ledger to 65-60 and helping to keep the Jays' postseason hopes on life support. The recent power surge, combined with Toronto's typically strong pitching, has been a welcome sight for manager Cito Gaston.

"It's nice to see the home runs," Gaston said. "It's something that this team certainly didn't have early in the year."

Heading into the season, the Blue Jays didn't anticipate the power outage that would contribute to the offense's season-long struggles. Even Gaston, who was in camp with Toronto in the spring before taking over as manager in June, believed Toronto had a powerful lineup in place.

Gaston said that Toronto's current lineup reminded him of his 1993 squad -- a group that included the likes of Joe Carter, Paul Molitor, John Olerud and Roberto Alomar -- which went on to win the World Series. But things certainly haven't turned out the way he and the Blue Jays envisioned.

"Going into Spring Training, watching this team, I thought this team would hit a lot of home runs," he said. "I thought that this team -- the last two years -- looked like my '93 team. We scored a lot of runs that year. That's what I thought this team was going to be like."

Entering Wednesday, the Blue Jays ranked last in the American League with 87 homers -- the third-fewest in all of baseball. The veteran Matt Stairs leads Toronto, with 11 home runs, making the Jays only one of three teams in the Majors (the Nationals and Giants being the others) without at least one player with 15 long balls.

Should the Jays finish without at least one player with 20 homers this year, it will mark the first time since Toronto's inaugural 1977 campaign that the club accomplished that dubious feat in a full season. Toronto also didn't have a player with at least 20 homers in the strike-shortened 1981 tour.

Things have been looking up lately, though. Over the past seven games, four of Toronto's eight homers have come from left fielder Adam Lind. Since June 20, the 25-year-old Lind leads the club, with nine home runs, putting him two off the team lead in just 189 at-bats.

Lind has helped the Blue Jays -- who own a 43-23 record in games in which they've hit at least one home run this season -- find some of that elusive instant offense a little more often than earlier in the year -- a good development for a team that is fighting to remain in the postseason discussion.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.