The Toronto Blue Jays are on the verge of their longest winning streak in nearly five years - with a big thanks owed to their starting pitching.
The Blue Jays (33-36) claimed their sixth straight win and ninth in 11 games Monday night with a 2-0 victory over the Rockies (37-34). Toronto hasn't had a longer win streak since a 10-game run from Aug. 30-Sept. 9, 2008.
Josh Johnson went 7 1-3 innings and struck out 10 - his most since 2010 - as the latest in a series of strong showings from Toronto's rotation. Blue Jays starters own a 2.32 ERA over the past 12 games, including an 0.53 mark in the last five while going 4-0.
That five-game stretch began with Rogers (2-2, 3.21 ERA) throwing seven innings of one-run ball while yielding five hits and one walk in a 3-1 victory at Texas on Thursday.
"He was tremendous, he really was," manager John Gibbons said. "You could kind of see that building. He's really taken to it."
The only longer start he's had came for Colorado in 2011, two years after he made his major league debut with the Rockies. Rogers pitched 70 games for them before being traded to Cleveland last June.
The former reliever was thrown into Toronto's rotation as injuries piled up. His performance thus far - 1-0 with a 1.26 ERA over three starts since May 29 - might see him stick around longer than expected.
Rogers told the team's official website he started to use his sinker much more Thursday, and the results showed. He struck out only one batter after fanning 10 over his other two starts spanning 7 1-3 innings, but also induced 14 groundballs compared to seven flyballs.
The Rockies, who have lost four of six, hope Jeff Francis (2-4, 5.87) can lead them to a victory in the Vancouver native's second career start in Canada.
While with Kansas City, he yielded two runs over six innings in a 9-6 win at Toronto on Aug. 25, 2011. Francis has won all three starts he's made against the Blue Jays, posting a 2.37 ERA.
"Any time I get to face a team where it's on TV across the country and they can watch, it's fun," Francis told the team's official website. "You want to have a good game every time, but sometimes it's a little extra special."
Francis struck out a season-high eight against Washington on Thursday, not getting a decision as he allowed two runs across six innings in a 5-4 defeat. Colorado has lost six of his last seven starts.
Colorado's Michael Cuddyer has hit safely in 15 straight games.
|June 14, 2013||Troy Tulowitzki||15-Day DL||Fractured rib, right ribcage|
|June 13, 2013||Troy Tulowitzki||Day-to-Day||Broken rib|
|June 13, 2013||Carlos Gonzalez||Day-to-Day||Bruised left foot|
|June 13, 2013||Dexter Fowler||Day-to-Day||Hand|
|June 11, 2013||Jorge De La Rosa||Day-to-Day||Cut on left middle finger|
|June 10, 2013||Edgmer Escalona||15-Day DL||Right elbow inflammation|
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|June 03, 2013||Ramon Ortiz||15-Day DL||Right elbow strain|
|June 02, 2013||Ramon Ortiz||Day-to-Day||Left game - right elbow|
|June 01, 2013||Brandon Morrow||15-Day DL||Right forearm strain|
|May 28, 2013||Brett Lawrie||15-Day DL||Left ankle sprain|
|May 28, 2013||Brett Lawrie||Day-to-Day||Ankle sprain|
|May 19, 2013||Darren Oliver||15-Day DL||Left shoulder strain|
TORONTO (AP) -- In a rotation wracked by injuries, Esmil Rogers is giving the Toronto Blue Jays some much-needed stability.
Edwin Encarnacion hit a two-run homer, J.P. Arencibia and Maicer Izturis added back-to-back shots and the Blue Jays won their seventh straight game, beating the Colorado Rockies 8-3 Tuesday night.
Rogers (3-2) worked 6 2-3 innings to beat his former team and win his second straight start.
"He's got a dynamite arm," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He's really tough on the right-handed hitters. He can let it fly inside. He shut down a good-hitting team."
Toronto has its longest winning streak since a 10-game run in late 2008.
Gibbons acknowledged the Blue Jays were desperate when they turned to Rogers to start at Atlanta in late May, after injuries to Brandon Morrow , J.A. Happ and Josh Johnson had left their rotation seriously depleted.
Rogers has made that decision look smart, going 2-0 with a 1.71 ERA in four starts since.
"He's been tremendous, he really has," Gibbons said.
Rogers didn't give up a hit until Jonathan Herrera singled with one out in the sixth. He left to a standing ovation after allowing two earned runs and four hits. He walked one and struck out five.
"I've got unbelievable confidence right now," Rogers said. "I can throw any pitch in any count."
Rogers pitched 70 games over four seasons with the Rockies before being traded to Cleveland last June. The right-hander, who joined Toronto in a trade last November.
Arencibia said Rogers has expanded his repertoire since becoming a starter.
"His sinker is the biggest difference," the catcher said. "Earlier guys could jump on his fastball. He had a pretty straight fastball. Now he's sinking it so you really have to respect it."
Colorado infielder Nolan Arenado , who grounded into a double play and struck out, gained plenty of respect for Rogers' sinker.
"It moves a lot, it sinks a lot," Arenado said. "I didn't know it sank like that but it has a lot of sink. He did a very good job today."
The Rockies lost for the fifth time in seven games and dropped to 0-8 at Rogers Centre.
Jeff Francis (2-5) allowed season highs of eight runs and 10 hits in six innings, losing for the first time in four career starts against Toronto. Making just his second start in Canada, the Vancouver, B.C., native walked none and struck out two.
The Blue Jays tagged Francis with a four-run first. Encarnacion hit an RBI double and scored on Adam Lind 's single, Rajai Davis singled home a run and Arencibia capped a six-hit inning with an RBI double.
"I didn't execute pitches," Francis said. "You leave them up like that to those guys and you know they're going to make you pay and they did. They got me early."
Francis responded by setting down 11 straight batters before Melky Cabrera singled in the fifth. One out later, Encarnacion homered to left, his team-leading 19th.
"Encarnacion took a tough pitch and put some good wood on it," Francis said.
Toronto made it 8-0 when Arencibia and Izturis went deep in the sixth, the first time this season the Blue Jays have hit consecutive home runs. Arencibia's homer was his 15th, while Izturis hit his fourth.
The Rockies ended Rogers' shutout bid in the seventh. Carlos Gonzalez led off with a double and Michael Cuddyer followed with a single, extending his hitting streak to a career-best 16 games. Wilin Rosario hit an RBI single and, one out later, Cuddyer scored on Arenado's groundout.
Darren Oliver worked the eighth and Steve Delabar finished in the ninth as Toronto improved to 8-5 against NL opponents.
NOTES: The Rockies announced that RHP Roy Oswalt will be called up to make his season debut against Washington on Thursday. Oswalt signed a minor league contract on May 2 and had been at Double-A Tulsa. ... Colorado OF Dexter Fowler (right ring finger) got the night off. Fowler has been sore since being hit on the hand by a pitch last week. ... Morrow (forearm) and LHP Luis Perez (elbow) have both been shut down in their minor league rehab assignments because of soreness. Morrow has been out since May 28, while Perez has not pitched this season. ... Blue Jays third base coach Luis Rivera missed the game to attend his son's high school graduation. He was replaced by bench coach DeMarlo Hale.