HRs lift Blue Jays over Marlins for 8th straight win
By Jamie Ross and Dan Toman
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays capped a series sweep with a 7-2 win over the Marlins on Wednesday afternoon at Rogers Centre. Justin Smoak, Russell Martin, Jose Reyes and Josh Donaldson homered to support Scott Copeland in the rookie's first Major League start.
Copeland allowed one run in a strong seven-inning performance in a spot start as Toronto extended its winning streak to eight games. The right-hander didn't need a lot of run support, but he got it anyway as the Blue Jays scored at least five runs for the sixth time in their last seven games.
Ichiro Suzuki hit an RBI triple, while Marcell Ozuna homered to lead the Marlins at the plate. Tom Koehler took the loss on the mound for Miami, tossing 6 2/3 innings and allowing six earned runs on eight hits, three of which were homers.
"The way you win ballgames is by limiting walks and keeping the ball in the ballpark, and 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."
Copeland was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo late Tuesday to start in place of rookie Aaron Sanchez, who was slated to make the start before the club elected to skip him in the rotation.
"He was unbelievable," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "I don't know how you could do it any better than that. The organization has always liked him."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Back-to-back attacks: Smoak crushed a two-run shot off the facing of the third deck in the fourth inning to drive in Edwin Encarnacion and give the Blue Jays a 4-0 lead. Martin then went deep to right in the following at-bat to stretch the lead to five runs. It marked the second time this season the Blue Jays have hit back-to-back homers. They did it again in the seventh on two shots from Reyes and Donaldson.
"This lineup is unbelievable from top to bottom," said Smoak, who was 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs and runs scored. "You just try to get on base for the guy behind you, and we're able to get those big hits. It shows when you win ballgames."
Hot corner: The heavy-hitting Blue Jays used a pair of weak grounders to third to help jumpstart their two-run rally in the second. Encarnacion led off the inning with a high chopper to Martin Prado, who couldn't corral the grounder. Prado then made an errant throw home two batters later after fielding Martin's slow dribbler down the line, allowing Encarnacion to score the first run of the game. Smoak advanced to third on Martin's single and later scored on Kevin Pillar's sacrifice fly to make it 2-0.
Copeland lifted after seven: Copeland gave the Blue Jays all they could've asked for in his spot role. The right-hander allowed an earned run on six hits to register a quality start, striking out four without walking a batter. The sinkerballer induced 12 ground balls in his outing. He was optioned back to Triple-A Buffalo following the game, but the 27-year-old said he hoped his performance had made a strong impression on Blue Jays management. More >
"It's his first start for us. He definitely opened up everybody's eyes. I think everyone thought he was good, but to go out and actually do it, it's only gonna help him out in the future." -- Gibbons, on Copeland's performance
"Try to get some more guys on in front of Giancarlo, that's all. As hot as he is right now swinging the bat, we thought we could get a few guys on and create some traffic for him to do some more damage." -- Marlins manager Dan Jennings, on dropping Giancarlo Stanton to the cleanup spot for the first time this season
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Over their eight-game winning streak, the Blue Jays have outscored the opposition, 57-21.
WHAT'S NEXT Marlins: The Marlins return home for a four-game series with the Rockies beginning Thursday at 7:10 p.m. ET after taking two of three at Coors Field last week. Right-hander David Phelps will be looking to put his shortest start with Miami behind him after allowing nine runs on 11 hits in just 3 2/3 innings in the Rockies' 10-5 win on June 6. Phelps, who is 2-3 with a 4.68 ERA this season, is winless in his last five starts.
Blue Jays: Toronto has a day off Thursday before embarking on a five-game road trip beginning in Boston at 7:10 p.m. ET on Friday at Fenway Park. Drew Hutchison will get the start for the Blue Jays looking to extend Toronto's win streak to nine games. He's making his 13th start of the season.