Blue Jays have been bolstered by rotation

Blue Jays have been bolstered by rotation

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays' starting rotation entered the year with plenty of question marks, but through nine games this season, it has become a pleasant surprise.

Left-hander J.A. Happ became the latest key contributor as he allowed just one run over six innings during Wednesday's 7-2 victory over the Yankees. Toronto starters have tossed at least six innings while allowing two runs or fewer in all but two of the club's games this season.

The only member of the starting five without a quality start this season is R.A. Dickey. The veteran knuckleballer also is the lone starter who has allowed more than three runs in an outing.

"If you look back, our starting pitching has been very, very good, for the most part," said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons, whose staff is 4-1 with a 3.58 ERA in nine starts. "They've always given us a shot. When our bats come to life, and there were some good signs late tonight, we'll be just fine."

Toronto's rotation was supposed to be its biggest weakness this season, but so far it has been the glue holding everything together. The Blue Jays' bullpen has yet to find is bearings, and despite seven runs on Wednesday night, the lineup is still performing below expectations.

Despite the issues elsewhere on the roster, the Blue Jays find themselves just one game under .500 (4-5), thanks in large part to the performance of the starting pitchers.

Happ did his part against New York by scattering seven hits and three walks over six innings. It was his second consecutive outing with six innings pitched, and he has allowed a total of three runs on the season. Dating back to last season, Happ has allowed two runs or fewer in 11 of his last 12 starts, but that still wasn't quite enough to satisfy him after the latest victory.

"I'm pretty hard on myself sometimes, but I think the best thing about tonight is being able to make some pitches in big situations. Try to minimize the damage there ... I'd just like to get strike one a little more. I don't know what the percentage was, but not great. Other than that, I'll take that game any time, for sure."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.