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TORONTO – The first-place Blue Jays hit the halfway mark of the season with 45 wins and a two-game lead on Baltimore in the American League East, territory unfamiliar to a franchise still waiting for its first playoff game since October 23, 1993, the night Joe Carter walked off Mitch Williams into World Series lore. "Im proud of the way the guys played," said manager John Gibbons. "It was kind of a so-so start and we kicked it in there in the month of May and put ourselves in a good position. Now, you know, we just need to do that again in the second half or even improve on that but Im very, very happy with the effort and the way the guys have been playing baseball. Its that simple." You wont find a Mission Accomplished banner hanging in the clubhouse. The expectation is much greater. "Has it met it yet? No," said Casey Janssen. "Our expectation is to make the playoffs and win the World Series and were not there yet. Weve got a long way to go. I think everyone believed we could be this type of team but were not throwing a party yet, we know that. We know theres a ton of talent here and its the AL East so anything can happen." Despite a recent downturn in offensive production, through 81 games Toronto continues to sit in the top seven of most major categories. The club sits first in the majors with 104 home runs. Its fourth with a .262 batting average and .331 on-base percentage. The on-base plus slugging percentage of .767 ranks third and its 272 walks are seventh. The most pleasant surprise and biggest disappointment reside on the same spot: the pitchers mound. The pleasant surprise: Blue Jays starters lead the American League with 35 wins (a number not reached until the 135th game last season) and the staff ERA of 3.87 is best in the AL East. The biggest disappointment: the bullpen, the ray of sunshine in a stormy 2013 season, has compiled baseballs fourth-worst ERA (4.48). Its a target for improvement. "I think there are some times when weve got to be better in the bullpen," said Gibbons. "Weve got to shore that up a little bit. Its like anything, consistency over the whole pitching staff and hopefully you stay healthy enough." The Blue Jays have been fortunate to remain relatively healthy, dealing with injuries theyve been able to cover. Maicer Izturis was a backup infielder. Brandon Morrow wasnt pitching well when he got hurt. Colby Rasmus missed 33 games with a hamstring strain and the Jays got by with an Anthony Gose-Kevin Pillar platoon in centerfield. The medical staff is now doing the dance with Jose Bautista as he deals with a hamstring problem, which could be made worse if rushed. Bautista will run sprints on Saturday morning and depending on how he feels, could be available to at least pinch hit on the weekend. QUIET TIME FOR JANSSEN Wondering where closer Casey Janssen has been these days? Hes around. He just hasnt pitched much due to a lack of save opportunities. Since notching his 12th save of the season on June 15 in Baltimore, Janssen has appeared twice. He mopped up the epic, 14-9 comeback win on June 20 in Cincinnati. He threw the ninth inning of a 6-6 game against the Yankees on June 24 and got the win when the Blue Jays walked off. It can be difficult for relievers when they go through a period without consistent work. "I feel like saves come in bunches at times," said Janssen. "You get opportunities to pitch maybe in a lopsided game one way or another if it gets to be too long. Sometimes there are times when you dont get in but you get up. Im one of those guys that always has relied on my command and I guess it comes a little more natural to me than others." Janssen has 12 saves in 14 opportunities this season. "Sometimes the rest is good, knowing that the tough stretch is going to come at some point," said Janssen. Expect Janssen to get into a game before the weekend is over, regardless of whether Toronto has a lead of three or less. Janssen speaks to pitching coach Pete Walker about his schedule, who relays the message to manager John Gibbons. If Janssen goes four or five days without action his arms reaction to its diminished workload becomes less predictable. "You wonder if your arms going to be a little cranky or if its going to be super fresh," said Janssen. "Sometimes you feel great when you get the rest and sometimes youre kind of knocking the dust off a little bit." Remember that Janssen had an abbreviated spring training thanks to stiffness in the back of his pitching shoulder. He didnt appear in a Grapefruit League game until the final week of March. Then, in Montreal, he strained his left oblique and didnt make his season debut until May 12. Its been a build for Janssen, who anticipates being able to pitch on three consecutive days, if needed, as the importance of each game ramps up. "I feel like Id love to do it and Id love to have the opportunity to do it," said Janssen. "I think a lot of those three in a rows depend on how the first two went and the stress level of those innings. My goal is to be able to pitch in every opportunity possible, especially as the season gets further along and as this division and the race gets tight and everything like that." Davon House Jersey . With the win, the Marlies complete a three-game series sweep of the Admirals and move on to the second round of the Calder Cup playoffs. T.J. Brennan added an empty netter with less than 25 seconds remaining for his second of the playoffs. Kyler Fackrell Jersey . The three Calgary natives will compete after the sport was skipped by the Vancouver Games in 2010 but later included on the program for Sochi, Russia. 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The Miami Heat star tops the leagues global list of top-selling jerseys for the 2012-13 season, edging Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls, Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder and James Heat teammate Dwyane Wade for the No.TORONTO - Trevor Harris threw two TD passes in his first CFL start, leading the Toronto Argonauts to an important 23-5 win over the Ottawa Redblacks on Friday night.Harris, replacing incumbent Ricky Ray (concussion), was solid in the first start of his three-year CFL career. The former Edinboro star finished 26-of-36 passing for 281 yards before an announced season-high Rogers Centre gathering of 19,687.Ottawa came into the game ranked last overall in yards allowed (374.1 per game), passing yards (262.8) and second-last in rushing yards (126.9). Regardless, Toronto (8-10) needed to win to remain in playoff contention.If the Montreal Alouettes beat the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Saturday, theyll finish first and Toronto will secure second in the East Division. The Argos would host the conference semifinal Nov. 16, with that winner visiting the Als the following weekend.A Hamilton win would end Torontos season. And if the Ticats were victorious by eight or more points, theyd finish first ahead of Montreal. Ottawa (2-16) capped its inaugural season with five straight losses. The Redblacks are just the third CFL club to suffer 16 losses in a season, joining the 88 Rough Riders and 97 Ticats.Ottawa, which alternated quarterbacks between starter Henry Burris and backup Danny OBrien, finished 0-9 on the road. The Redblacks were 1-7 within the East Division, the lone win being an 18-17 decision over Toronto in their home opener July 18.Ottawa outscored Toronto 5-3 in the second half and twice had solid chances for touchdowns. Burris drove the Redblacks to the Argos 14-yard line before two incompletions set up Brett Mahers 22-yard field goal at 3::18 of the fourth to make it 20-5.ddddddddddddOBrien marched Ottawa to the Toronto seven-yard line — thanks largely to a 77-yard completion to Khalil Paden — before throwing incomplete on third down with 3:08 remaining.John Chiles and Chad Owens had Torontos touchdowns. Swayze Waters booted the converts and three field goals.Maher added two singles for Ottawa.Harris was an efficient 16-of-22 passing for 184 yards and two TDs in staking Toronto to its 20-0 half-time lead. He capped a six-play, 78-yard march with a 12-yard touchdown strike to Chiles on the Argos opening possession, then hit Owens on a three-yard pass one play after Tristan Okpalaugo returned a Burris interception 23 yards to the Ottawa three-yard line.The lone blemish on Harriss half was being picked off in the end zone by Ottawas Abdul Kanneh on Torontos third possession. Branden Smith intercepted OBrien in the second to set up Waters 22-yard field goal at 11:47 as the Argos had 10 points off Redblacks turnovers.Burris was 0-for-2 passing before being replaced by OBrien following Okpalaugos interception on the Redblacks second offensive series. OBrien completed 7-of-13 passes for 41 yards and an interception as Ottawa managed just three first downs and 53 net offensive yardsNOTES — Offensive lineman Scott Mitchell and linebacker Greg Jones didnt dress for Toronto while defensive back Brandon McDonald and receiver Robin Medeiros were Ottawas scratches . . . Rays concussion ended his streak at 17 straight starts and he remains at 99 career regular-season win . . . Ottawa held a lead in 12 of its games this year . . . Montreal GM Popp took in Fridays game. Cheap NFL Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys Wholesale NFL Jerseys Jerseys From China Wholesale NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys Cheap Jerseys ' ' '
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