The Toronto Blue Jays may be relieved to give the ball to a regular member of the rotation, but at least they can rely on an offense that continues to produce.
Contrary to historical results, a series against the Miami Marlins may be coming at the perfect time.
Ricky Romero will try to lead the Blue Jays to a fifth consecutive victory with him on the mound Friday night when they open a three-game set against the sputtering Marlins.
Three of Toronto's starters went on the disabled list last week, including Kyle Drabek who is out for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Rookie Drew Hutchison is expected to get a second opinion on his ailing elbow, and Brandon Morrow has a strained rib cage muscle.
Those absences have resulted in the Blue Jays (35-34) starting relievers Joel Carreno and Jesse Chavez while recalling Brett Cecil from Triple-A Las Vegas. Cecil is scheduled to start Saturday, and Carreno lasted only three innings - yielding three homers - in Wednesday's 8-3 loss at Milwaukee.
Toronto hit .294 with 10 homers and 19 runs against the Brewers, but dropped two of three in large part because of a 13.97 ERA from its starting pitchers.
Slugger Jose Bautista has done more than his share lately. He's hit 10 of his team-leading 22 homers and driven in 20 runs over the past 17 games.
"We've got to come through as an offensive group and put up a couple more runs than the usual," Bautista told the team's official website. "Hopefully that's a good enough cushion for the guys that are filling in (the starting rotation) that might be out of their role or in a situation they haven't been before."
With all the injuries to the rotation, Toronto more than ever needs Romero (7-1, 4.28 ERA) to provide quality outings.
The Blue Jays have won each of the left-hander's last four starts, providing him with 9.78 runs per game while he's gone 2-0 with a 5.48 ERA.
Romero struggled early Saturday, allowing four runs in three innings before exiting after six in a 6-5, 10-inning win over Philadelphia.
Though he's never faced the Marlins, this could be a favorable matchup for Romero, who's 5-2 with a 2.41 ERA in 12 career interleague starts. Miami (33-36) has lost 13 of 15, averaging 2.4 runs during that span.
Toronto, though, is 4-17 all-time against the Marlins and has lost eight in a row with the most recent series coming at home in June 2009.
Miami's losing streak reached four Thursday when it squandered a three-run, first-inning lead and a two-run advantage in the eighth en route to a 6-5 loss at Boston.
"This hurt a lot," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "We've got to come back with a winning attitude. Fight for it. Good fighter fight the fight. Bad fighter throw in the towel."
Guillen's club has shown some signs lately, scoring five runs in each of the last three games after totaling 17 in the previous seven contests.
Anibal Sanchez (3-5, 3.47) will try to prevent Miami from losing for the ninth time in 10 home games. He's won once in his last six decisions over eight starts while compiling a 4.13 ERA. That includes going 0-2 with a 6.63 ERA in the past three outings.
The right-hander was staked to a three-run lead after two innings Saturday at Tampa Bay, but he couldn't hold it and ended up allowing three runs in 6 1-3 frames of a 4-3 win in 15.
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|June 16, 2012||Drew Hutchison||15-Day DL||Right UCL sprain|
|June 14, 2012||Kyle Drabek||15-Day DL||Sprained right elbow ligament|
|June 13, 2012||Brandon Morrow||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
|June 12, 2012||Brandon Morrow||Day-to-Day||Strained left oblique|
|June 07, 2012||Rajai Davis||Day-to-Day||Jammed left middle finger|
|May 21, 2012||Ben Francisco||15-Day DL||Strained left hamstring|
|June 16, 2012||Sandy Rosario||15-Day DL||Strained right quad|
|May 23, 2012||Austin Kearns||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|May 23, 2012||Austin Kearns||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|May 19, 2012||Emilio Bonifacio||15-Day DL||Left thumb sprain|
|May 18, 2012||Emilio Bonifacio||Day-to-Day||Left game - left thumb sprain|
|May 04, 2012||Logan Morrison||Day-to-Day||Right knee soreness|
MIAMI (AP) -- Regardless of how Ricky Romero has pitched, he's been provided with plenty of run support.
Jose Bautista homered and drove in three runs, Kelly Johnson also had three RBIs and the Toronto Blue Jays backed Romero handsomely in a 12-5 victory over the skidding Miami Marlins on Friday night.
"I've been lucky," Romero said. "The hitters have done their part every time I've pitched it seems like."
Toronto had supported Romero (8-1) with an average of 9.16 runs per game entering Friday, which put him third in the majors. He did not have his best stuff against the Marlins, allowing four runs, seven hits and four walks. But he did give the Blue Jays seven much-needed innings after Toronto placed three starters on the disabled list in the last week.
"It's been a grind, it honestly has," Romero said. "Nothing has come easy for me this year. It's no secret. I'm battling, grinding and trying to do everything possible to get deep in the game."
Kyle Drabek was lost for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, and Drew Hutchison (elbow sprain) and Brandon Marrow (strained rib cage muscle) also went on the DL.
Brett Lawrie had three hits and scored four times to help the Blue Jays end an eight-game losing streak to the Marlins, who own a 17-5 advantage in the series.
"I'm seeing the ball well and just trying to get on base for the guys behind me to allow them to do their job," Lawrie said.
Miami has lost five straight and 14 of 16 overall. It's been a stark contrast from May when the Marlins went 21-8, setting a franchise record for wins in a month.
"I'd rather lose 2-1 because I have a chance," Miami manager Ozzie Guillen said. "That means we're pitching well but we're not hitting."
Giancarlo Stanton , Omar Infante and Gaby Sanchez homered for the Marlins.
"Nothing's fair now," Stanton said. "That's pretty much the story. It's either nothing, or one or the other. We've got to turn it all at the same time."
Lawrie led off the game with a triple down the right-field line and scored on a groundout by Colby Rasmus . Bautista singled home Lawrie in the third, and Johnson's sacrifice fly scored Bautista.
"It was a very good offensive night again," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "Brett gets us started right out of the gate with a triple."
Toronto chased Anibal Sanchez (3-6) in the fourth after the right-hander walked in a run with the bases loaded, giving the Blue Jays a 4-0 lead. Two more runs scored in the inning, both charged to Sanchez. He gave up six runs, seven hits and four walks in 3 1-3 innings.
"I wanted to help the team," Sanchez said. "I know the situation right now with the team. I just want to do the best I can, like I do every time. I wanted to help the team get out of the hole we are in right now."
Stanton's homer and an RBI single by Hanley Ramirez cut the lead to 6-2 before the Blue Jays scored five more in the sixth off Ryan Webb , keyed by a two-run double from J.P. Arencibia. Johnson and Rajai Davis each had an RBI single in the inning and Yunel Escobar drove in a run with Toronto's third sacrifice fly.
Bautista's 419-foot homer to left was his 23rd of the season and 11th in the past 18 games.
Infante's two-run shot was his first since May 8. Sanchez's only other home run came on April 26.
NOTES: Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos confirmed that Hutchison has a sprained right elbow after the pitcher had additional tests, but Hutchison will not need Tommy John surgery. "He's on a non-throwing program for four to six weeks," Anthopoulos said. "At that point, then he can start a normal throwing program. In terms of coming back, if it's six weeks that he doesn't throw, then he's going to start throwing again and get ready, you're probably looking at September." ... The Blue Jays have made an adjustment in their starting rotation. RHP Jesse Chavez will start Sunday against Miami and RHP Henderson Alvarez will start Monday against Boston. ... Marlins CF Emilio Bonifacio (sprained left thumb) took 25 swings from the left side for the first time since his May 18 injury and did not have any pain. Although he would like to return sooner, Bonifacio is still expected to be out until after the All-Star break. ... ESPN basketball analyst Dick Vitale was in attendance. ... U.S. soccer standout Jozy Altidore threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Altidore will play in the World Soccer Masters Tour game at Sun Life Stadium on Saturday. ... Miami will send RHP Josh Johnson (4-5, 4.18 ERA) to the mound Saturday to face LHP Brett Cecil (1-0, 3.60). Johnson is 6-1 with a 2.06 ERA in his last 10 interleague starts.