- 142 wins
- 110 wins
MIAMI -- The Blue Jays' suddenly prolific offense was held in check for most of Saturday afternoon, but with the way the team has been swinging the bats lately, it was only a matter of time before things began to turn around.
Toronto sprung to life in the ninth to secure a second consecutive lopsided victory. Edwin Encarnacion hit a go-ahead solo home run, while Colby Rasmus added a grand slam in the six-run frame, sending the Blue Jays to a 7-1 victory over Miami at Marlins Park.
"I don't think it's about me right now, I think it's about that win we just got," Rasmus said as he brushed aside questions about his recent hot streak. "I'm glad to be able to do it for the team. I think -- like our manager says -- if you try to go out there and play for the team, score runs for the team and do things you have to do to help the team, then the numbers are going to be there for ourselves."
Ramsus is just one of several Blue Jays hitters currently enjoying a lot of success at the plate. After spending most of the season hitting near the bottom of the order, Rasmus was moved up to the second spot last month and has been on a roll ever since.
The 25-year-old center fielder is hitting .340 with 10 homers and 29 RBIs in 21 games out of the two-hole. That production comes just in front of Jose Bautista, but Rasmus believes the newfound success has less to do with the position in the lineup and more to do with a better approach at the plate.
"I think different teams pitch me different," said Rasmus, whose team has scored 53 runs in its past eight games. "Yesterday, I got into a 3-2 count, and not a huge point in the game, but a pretty big spot in the game, and they threw me a 3-2 changeup.
"[Josh] Johnson, I got up there one at-bat, and he threw me all sliders and finished me off with the hard stuff. I don't really see a whole lot of a difference. I think pitchers are going to pitch me how they're going to pitch me, no matter who's hitting where."
Saturday afternoon's game was a pitchers' duel until the top of the ninth inning. That's when Encarnacion led off the frame with a solo home run to break a 1-1 tie and give the Blue Jays their second lead of the game.
Encarnacion's 21st home run of the season came on a 1-2 pitch from reliever Steve Cishek. It ties the most homers Encarnacion has hit in a Blue Jays uniform in a single season, and is just five away from a career high he set with the Reds in 2008.
The Blue Jays' ninth-inning rally was far from over, as Cishek made an error on a safety squeeze off the bat of Jeff Mathis. The final blow occurred three batters later, when Rasmus sent a 2-1 pitch off the facing of the second deck in right field for his third career grand slam.
Most of the attention for Saturday's victory will once again go to the heart of the order, but manager John Farrell was equally as impressed with the bottom part of the lineup. Rajai Davis drove home the first run of the game on a safety squeeze against Johnson, while Mathis executed his in the ninth.
"We've been in a stretch for a while now where we're getting production at the bottom of the order," Farrell said. "I think guys in that bottom third, and not just because we're in Interleague Play, but I think there's an understanding that we're going to manufacture some things down there, particularly when Mathis is in the ballgame. He can bunt, he can hit and run, and Rajai has the ability to make a number of things happen."
Left-hander Brett Cecil got the start for Toronto and was nearly flawless until the seventh inning. Cecil allowed the first batter he faced in the frame to reach and then surrendered an RBI double to Omar Infante.
That tied the game at 1 and chased Cecil from the game. The 25-year-old was charged with just the one run on five hits while walking three and striking out two in six-plus innings. Cecil has now allowed just three earned runs in 11 innings since being promoted from Triple-A Las Vegas on June 16.
Cecil said he struggled with locating his fastball down in the zone early in the game, but was able to make several in-game adjustments to keep things on track. That's something he wasn't able to do last season, when he was more concerned with making up for a drop in velocity on his pitches.
"Last year, I was trying to make adjustments to combat the velocity," Cecil said. "Now I'm making adjustments to combat the location and not trying to throw harder, which makes things worse. Now, if I'm trying to adjust something, I try to stay smooth through my delivery and not give it too much effort. Just get the ball down, and once I have that good feeling of where the arm side is going to be, that's when I can start quickening things up."
The Blue Jays will have a chance to secure a three-game sweep over Miami on Sunday afternoon with right-hander Jesse Chavez on the mound. With the win on Saturday, the club improved to 3-2 on its current road trip, and 9-8 in Interleague Play this season.