Dickey extends Toronto staff's stellar run

Knuckleballer twirls 8 scoreless innings as Blue Jays lean on rotation

Dickey extends Toronto staff's stellar run

ARLINGTON -- The Blue Jays have been getting a lot more than just good starting pitching. They've been getting a borderline dominant performance almost every night.

Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey became the latest starter to contribute in a big way Friday night, when he held the Rangers scoreless over eight innings in a 5-0 victory over Texas. The ERA of Toronto's rotation now sits at 1.59 in 85 innings this month.

The impressive results date back a lot further than the last two weeks. The starting staff has been by far the club's biggest strength, and considering the offense has struggled for most of the season, the main reason the Blue Jays sit one game above .500 is the rotation.

"They've been as good as you can get, they really have," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "It has been impressive to watch. Every night they go out there and it's either close or they're just shutting teams down. ... It's a very talented group, no surprises. They all look really, really good."

Dickey on shutting down Rangers

Toronto's starting staff leads the Majors with 241 innings this season. It also ranks first in the American League in ERA (3.02), opponents' batting average (.232), hits per nine innings (6.67) and opponents' OPS (.646). Blue Jays starters have tossed at least six innings in 17 consecutive games and have limited the opposition to three earned runs or fewer in 15 straight.

The numbers are even more remarkable considering this was the supposed weakness of the team heading into the year. The fan base was in an uproar when David Price left via free agency, and there was no shortage of criticism in the media. Nobody's complaining now, at least not about the pitching.

One potential advantage for the starters is that everybody offers something a little different. There's a pair of hard throwers in Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez. There's a finesse right-hander who relies on off-speed and command in Marco Estrada. A lefty in J.A. Happ, and then the unorthodox knuckleball from Dickey. For now, it is working to perfection.

"As an internal unit, we really believe in ourselves," Dickey said. "I think the fact that we have a lot of different looks that are coming at a team is very beneficial. We've got five starters, all with a different style of pitching, and that doesn't happen very often. Everybody is taking their turn and going deep into games."

Happ, Estrada and Sanchez all have ERAs at 2.58 ERA or below, Stroman sits at a respectable 3.54. Dickey was the lone aberration as he entered play Friday night with a 5.18 ERA. That number dropped to 4.31 after his eight shutout innings, and he could be on the way to another strong turnaround after a disappointing first month.

Dickey was at his best against the Rangers, with only one baserunner reaching scoring position. He allowed just three hits and one walk while striking out six to pick up his second victory of the year.

"Our starting pitching has been fantastic, probably the best in the league," said shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who hit career home run No. 200 in the win. "If our offense can just hold its own and start doing more of what we know we can do, it's definitely going to be a good team, and a hard team, to beat."

Tulo's 200th home run

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. 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.