Blue Jays beat Marlins 7-2 for 8th straight win
TORONTO (AP) — A power surge and an unexpected pitching gem lifted the streaking Toronto Blue Jays their eighth straight win.
Justin Smoak hit one of four Blue Jays homers, Scott Copeland won in his first major league start and Toronto beat the Miami Marlins 7-2 Wednesday to extend its winning streak to eight.
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons called Copeland’s performance “unbelievable.”
“I don’t see how you can do it better than that,” Gibbons said. “He definitely opened up everybody’s eyes.”
Copeland (1-0), a 27-year-old right-hander who made his big league debut in relief on May 2, started in place of Aaron Sanchez, who was skipped because of general soreness. Copeland allowed one run and six hits in seven innings, struck out four and walked none.
“All the hard work finally paid off,” Copeland said. “Hopefully I can stay up here and keep it going.”
Still, Toronto optioned Copeland back to Triple-A Buffalo after game.
Josh Donaldson, Russell Martin and Jose Reyes also homered for the Blue Jays (31-30), who moved above .500 for the first time since May 19 (16-15). Toronto is on its longest winning run since a nine-game streak from May 20-28 last year.
“They’re as good a hitting club as we’ve faced,” Marlins manager Dan Jennings said.
Smoak and Martin hit consecutive homers in the fourth off Tom Koehler (4-4), who allowed six runs and eight hits in 6 2-3 innings and lost for the first time since May 6 at Washington.
“I didn’t keep it in the ballpark today,” Koehler said. “It’s tough to win a game when you give up three homers, no matter who you’re facing.”
Reyes and Donaldson hit back-to-back drives in the seventh off Koehler and Sam Dyson. The Blue Jays have hit consecutive homers three times this season.
Toronto has outscored opponents 57-21 during its current streak.
“They punish the ball,” Jennings said.
Miami was swept for the sixth time this season. The Marlins have lost four of five and, at 24-36, matched a season worst by falling 12 games under .500.
“You’ve got to put this behind you and get back to winning series,” Marlins catcher Jeff Mathis said.
Martin hit an RBI single and Kevin Pillar added a sacrifice fly as Toronto took a 2-0 lead in the second. Smoak hit a two-run homer off the facing of the third deck and Martin followed with ninth homer to make it 5-0 in the fourth.
Ichiro Suzuki tripled home a run in the fifth, but the Blue Jays chased Koehler in the seventh when Reyes hit his second homer. Donaldson followed with his 17th. Miami’s Marcell Ozuna hit a solo homer off Brett Cecil in the ninth.
STANTON SLIDES DOWN A SPOT
Giancarlo Stanton batted cleanup for the first time this season in a bid to spark Miami’s offense. “Just trying to get some more guys on in front of Giancarlo, as hot as he is right now” Jennings said. Stanton, who homered twice Tuesday, went 1 for 4 with a single. The top three hitters in Miami’s order finished 1 for 12 with four strikeouts.
The Blue Jays assigned LHP Andrew Albers outright to Triple-A Buffalo. Toronto is expected to promote an infielder before Friday’s game at Boston.
Marlins: RHP Mat Latos (left knee) will be activated off the 15-day DL Saturday to pitch against Colorado. Latos last pitched May 21 against Arizona. He’ll take the rotation spot of Brad Hand, who didn’t make it out of the first inning Monday, giving up six runs and six hits.
Blue Jays: Dioner Navarro pinch hit for Edwin Encarnacion in the eighth after Encarnacion’s sore left shoulder flared up on him. “We don’t think it’s a big deal,” said Gibbons. Encarnacion sat out Sunday and Monday after getting a cortisone shot. Toronto is off Thursday. ... Sanchez’s next start is scheduled for June 16 at the New York Mets.
Marlins: Miami returns home Thursday to begin a four-game series against Colorado. RHP David Phelps (2-3) starts for the Marlins, his second straight start against the Rockies. Phelps allowed season-highs of nine runs and 11 hits in his previous starts, June 6 at Coors Field.
Blue Jays: Toronto is off Thursday before a three-game series at Boston starts Friday. RHP Drew Hutchison (5-1) faces RHP Joe Kelly (2-4) in the opener. Hutchison walked a season-high five and allowed six runs in four innings in an April 28 start at Fenway Park, but Toronto won 11-8.