"It's been a while," manager John Gibbons said. "I haven't shook anybody's hand lately."
After seven straight losses, Thursday night's victory over the Houston Astros was much-needed for a last-place team that was having trouble catching a break. Whether it was the ball bouncing over centre-fielder Colby Rasmus' head or the bullpen imploding, it got worse for the Blue Jays before it got better.
Better came with Mark Buehrle's two-hit shutout, and it didn't even matter that it was against the team with the worst record in baseball. As players returned to the clubhouse at Rogers Centre, it was clear this one meant something more than one of 162.
"I guess just to prove to ourselves we can win a game," Adam Lind said. "It was nice to come in and play some loud music. I'm not sure we knew which song to play because it had been a while. But it was nice to hear the music pumping when we came in."
In losses to the Baltimore Orioles, Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Dodgers, the Blue Jays were outscored 55-32. Still, three of seven were one-run games, and Gibbons said Thursday afternoon he felt his team was "close."
Toronto is still nine games under .500 and 14 games back of the American League East-leading Boston Red Sox, but beating the Astros delivered a quick injection of confidence.
"It's very, very important," third baseman Maicer Izturis said, through interpreter Candy Maldonado. "We always kept our head up, trying to win every night that we're out there. It's been tough. We know that this was very important. And sure, yeah, we know what's happening, but it's not like we're laying down and giving up. This victory might change things and go in the right direction."
Buehrle, who was masterful on the four-year anniversary of his perfect game for the Chicago White Sox against the Rays, wasn't letting himself enjoy too much of the Blue Jays' first victory since July 13.
"I think it was just like any other game we've won," Buehrle said. "I don't think it's any bigger that we've lost seven in a row and we finally won a game as opposed to winning three or four in a row. Guys were happy, music's playing. Obviously we've got to soak in every win we can right now and enjoy as much as we can."
Players enjoyed it, as Lind and Izturis admitted feeling relief about ending the losing streak. But the reality of the calendar and the Blue Jays' deep hole in the standings could make things challenging, continuing Friday night when R.A. Dickey (8-11) takes the mound against Houston's Jordan Lyles (4-4).
"Obviously we know the situation we're in, it's not a good spot, but we've got to go out there and battle every night," Buehrle said. "Whether we're mathematically out of it or whether we're still in it, we still got to go out there and battle till the end of the season."