8/16/2014 1:16 A.M. ET
Blue Jays sense urgency to start late-season push
By Gregor Chisholm and Teddy Cahill / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- The returns this week of Edwin Encarnacion and Adam Lind mean the Blue Jays no longer have any excuses in their chase for the postseason.
Toronto has spent the past six weeks without the middle of its order intact, and the repercussions of that have been felt. The current three-game series in Chicago marks the healthiest the Blue Jays have been all season.
Brett Lawrie and Brandon Morrow are still on the disabled list but aren't expected back any time soon. That means it will be up to the current group to get the job done, and those within the clubhouse feel like they have everything needed to accomplish the difficult task.
"We were in first place for a couple of months," Lind said. "Some things fell apart, but that's going to happen over the course of a season this long, but we're solid everywhere. Good staff, good bullpen, good lineup. We don't really have a great piece to anything, but we're solid across the board. Usually when that happens, you're good enough to make the playoffs."
Lind's return is just as important to the Blue Jays as Encarnacion's. The presence of both players goes a long way in helping to lengthen out a lineup that has fallen on hard times. All of a sudden, Dioner Navarro goes from a cleanup hitter to a more traditional spot lower in the order.
"With where we sit right now, we're going to have to make a run to get in the playoffs," Lind said. "Hopefully, we can do that.
"It's not a big surprise we only scored one or two runs during a game. Hopefully, with us back in the lineup, we can score more runs."
Norris fans career-high 13 for Triple-A Buffalo
Blue Jays No. 1 prospect Daniel Norris struck out a career-high 13 batters in 5 2/3 innings Friday, helping Triple-A Buffalo defeat Lehigh Valley, 7-1.
Friday was just Norris' second start since he was promoted from Double-A New Hampshire. He made his debut with Buffalo on Sunday, striking out 10 batters in six scoreless innings.
Norris, ranked No. 28 on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects, continued dominating Triple-A hitters Friday night. He allowed one run on three hits, walked none and threw 85 pitches.
Norris began his start Friday by retiring the first nine batters he faced, striking out seven. By the end of his outing, he had become the first Bisons pitcher to strike out 10 or more batters in back-to-back games. He also came within one strikeout of matching the club record, set by right-hander Marcus Moore in 1997.
Buffalo is Norris' third stop this season. He had an All-Star first half with Class A Advanced Dunedin before earning a promotion to New Hampshire in June and another last week. Across all three levels this season, he is 11-1 with a 2.21 ERA. He has struck out 148 batters and walked 36 in 114 innings.
Jenkins sent to Triple-A for sixth time; Drabek recalled
CHICAGO -- Blue Jays right-hander Chad Jenkins was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo following Friday night's 11-5 loss to the White Sox, and right-hander Kyle Drabek was promoted from Buffalo in a corresponding move.
The decision to option Jenkins is yet another setback for a player who has experienced a lot this season. He has been optioned to the Minors six times this year alone, and all of those moves had little to do with his performance and everything to do with the numbers game.
"We need a body," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons admitted after using six relievers in the loss to Chicago.
Jenkins allowed one run over 2 2/3 innings Friday night, but prior to that he had allowed one unearned run dating back to June 26. He has a sparkling 2.56 ERA in 31 2/3 innings this season and recently tossed six shutout innings in a 19-inning win over the Tigers.
Despite the success, Jenkins once again becomes the odd man out. He won't be eligible to return for at least another 10 days unless someone goes on the disabled list.
Drabek has the ability to throw multiple innings and is already on the 40-man roster. Toronto needs someone who can throw a lot of pitches in the event that left-hander Mark Buehrle doesn't work deep into Saturday's start.
Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. Teddy Cahill is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.