Toronto right fielder Jose Bautista resumed his offensive onslaught Friday and seems destined for a third straight year topping the American League in home runs.
Bautista homered and knocked in three runs in a 12-5 win last night against Miami, when the Blue Jays snapped an eight-game skid against the Marlins. He's reached base safely in 21 straight and in 26 of his last 27 games dating back to May 22. Additionally, Bautista's 23 home runs are tied for most in the AL with Adam Dunn of the White Sox.
The Blue Jays continue the three-game series this afternoon facing a pitcher that's dominated interleague play.
In his last 10 interleague starts, dating back to May 24, 2009 against Tampa Bay, Miami's Josh Johnson is 6-1 with a 2.06 ERA. He has not allowed more than three earned runs in any start, while holding opponents to one-or-fewer earned runs in six outings.
Johnson will try to bounce back from a loss, though, as the righty gave up eight hits and a pair of runs over six innings of a 3-0 road defeat to the Rays on Sunday. He's 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA in a pair of career starts against Toronto.
Brett Cecil, who is taking the place of an injured Brandon Morrow in the rotation, makes his second start of 2012. His initial appearance came last Sunday in a 6-2 win over the Phillies. In that game, the southpaw tossed five solid innings. He gave up solo home runs to Jim Thome and John Mayberry Jr. among five hits, walked one and struck out five to pick up his first win in the big leagues since July 29, 2011.
Cecil had gone 0-7 with a 5.16 ERA in his final 10 starts for the Blue Jays last year.
Last night, Kelly Johnson knocked in three and J.P. Arencibia added two RBI for the Blue Jays, who rebounded from a series loss at Milwaukee to win for the fifth time in seven games overall.
Brett Lawrie finished 3-for-5 with a triple and a career-best four runs scored to back Ricky Romero (8-1), who allowed seven hits and four runs over seven innings.
Omar Infante launched a two-run blast, while Giancarlo Stanton and Gaby Sanchez also went deep for the Marlins, who slid to their 14th loss in 16 games and continued their descent towards the NL East basement.
Anibal Sanchez (3-6) was rocked for seven hits and six runs, walking four, over 3 1/3 frames.
"When you throw pitches up in the zone they're going to do some damage," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. "This ball club came out swinging. A lot of walks early. When you have that many walks, that's the kind of result, you're going to get beat big time."
Toronto improved to 5-17 all-time against the Marlins.