Blue Jays hot streak continues with Fenway sweep of Red Sox

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BOSTON — The toughest part of the seven games and eight nights on the road now wrapped up for the Blue Jays?

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Leaving the East Coast.

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When the Jays flew to New York eight days prior, it was with plans to extricate themselves from a cold streak that had tightened the race for American League jokers.

So when they return (in the early hours of Friday morning) after four games in New York and three games here at Fenway Park, it will be with the ingredients for another hot streak at the most opportune time of the season.

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And what a way to end the swing on the road Thursday night, a spectacular 6-5 victory in the 10th, making it extra innings wins on consecutive nights at the legendary ballpark.

Despite a weak effort from starter Kevin Gausman — and 13 runners blocked on base — the Jays pulled off a three-game sweep against the Red Sox, pushing their sizzling latest run to seven wins in their last eight.

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What a road trip it has been, arguably the most impressive confident team of the season.

The final ‘W’ – to end the road trip at 6-1 – came in a 10th inning of a game that probably shouldn’t have gone this far given the golden chances the Sox squandered in eighth and ninth.

But when a George Springer runner allowed Cavan Biggio to sprint home from third — and escape a home plate play — the Jays took the lead.

The closer Jordan Romano, who had escaped a goal-laden jam in the ninth, came back in the 10th to seal it, two innings of work from the Canadian reliever, who was credited with the win.

Taking both series against their AL East rivals has undeniably added a boost of confidence to the Jays, the latest streak in a season full of them – both good and bad.

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So what has interim coach John Schneider learned about his squad, as he looks to build momentum for the more spirited action in the final quarter of the season?

“They are tough. They’re competitive as hell,” Schneider said of his team on a night that went by at a snail’s pace on a hot late summer night in Boston’s Back Bay. “We don’t back down from anyone and we play very well at the right time.

“There’s not a whole lot left in the season, so going to New York and then here and winning both series and sweeping the environments for this team, that says a lot about our guys for sure.”

Now that they seem to have shaken off the slump of a recent 2-8 streak, it’s time to continue the push towards a home stand against weaker opponents.

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The prevailing feeling — from Schneider, to his coaching staff and the players — is that even though the Jays are beginning to gallop toward the stretch, they haven’t yet hit their best stride.

“It’s huge,” said a closer look at Jordan Romano, who pitched the ninth and 10th Thursday, a serious effort for the Canadiens. “We’ve won a bunch of games and it’s been a good road trip and good for the morale, letting us know we’re in for real.”

The Jays are certainly showing some clutch ability, winning back-to-back games in overtime for the first time since 2014.

And perhaps the biggest benefit is that a lot of team members feel they haven’t performed consistently to their abilities yet.

“We haven’t seen the best of this team,” said second goal Santiago Espinal. “Not yet. I know our offense hasn’t been consistent. Our record shows we’re in a battle for the playoffs, but we’re waiting for the day when it all clicks.

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“It happens. We’ve had our ups and downs throughout the season. We just have to play with that consistency that we had at this point last season.

A race through two difficult sites in this way could help in this regard. Notice the beaten Red Sox don’t offer much of a fight that way in the first two games.

Next up for the Jays is a return to Rogers Center, where they’ll be looking to feed huge late-summer crowds and feast on the Los Angeles Angels and Chicago Cubs who are 38 games under. 0.500 mark.

The Jays can’t assume wins no matter how soft the opponent, but playing with the confidence gleaned from that recent road trip can’t hurt the cause.

To good effect, there’s a recognition within the Jays clubhouse that slow stretches are best cut as soon as the team not only hones in for the postseason, but works to lock down the wildcard first place.

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There’s an upside to that status, beyond hosting all of the games in the Best of Three Wilds series. It would also lead to a likely second-round clash with the Yankees, a favorite foe of the Houston Astros.

“We’ve been a little streaky and haven’t been able to put together a big, huge month,” third baseman Matt Chapman said. “We have 10 good days and then somehow.

“We’ve been able to stay where we were going to be… but if we can keep playing like (they’ve been doing recently) throughout the season, it’s unclear what we are capable of putting together.”

GAME ON

Team-leading Bo Bichette’s 15th error — on a pitch to Vlad Guerrero Jr. early with two outs in the sixth inning — eventually came back to bite the Jays with the Sox scoring the tying run… The Jays had taken the lead in the first half on Danny Jansen’s 10th homer (and fourth of his Fenway career), a shot that was snagged by a fan in the Monster seats in left field… The Jays dodged a bullet in the eighth when the Sox had runners in scoring position with two and a ground fly from Rafael Devers first went through Guerrero. Second baseman Biggio was there to back him up, however, knocking the Jays out of the inning, which started with a triple from Reese McGuire… The Jays had plenty of chances throughout that Boston Marathon, leaving 13 runners on the base paths, to match the scoring of the struggles of the Sox, which failed a dozen.

AROUND THE BASES

There’s no reason for the Jays to bring Springer back to center field. Springer, who extended his hitting streak to a season-high nine games with a first-inning single on Thursday, has won the money since being released from the injured list (elbow inflammation). In the seven games (before Thursday) since leaving IL, Springer had batted .600 (15 for 25) … The Jays have now won eight straight at Fenway and defeated the Sox 13 times, their record in the club history.

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