Marlins-Blue Jays Preview
After extending their lengthy winning streak in dramatic fashion, the Toronto Blue Jays have a chance to move above .500 for the first time in a month.
They can do so with an eighth consecutive victory Wednesday against the visiting Miami Marlins.
Edwin Encarnacion hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning to give Toronto (30-30) a 4-3 victory Tuesday. The Blue Jays, who won a season-high nine in a row in 2014, last sat above .500 on May 9 at 16-15.
Winners in five straight at home and 11 of 15 overall, Toronto has rallied in the ninth to win two of its last three contests.
''They're a good hitting team and that group in the middle of the lineup is probably as good as any in baseball,'' Miami manager Dan Jennings said of a Blue Jays club that leads the majors with 318 runs. ''They hunt the fastball and they're certainly capable of doing damage when they get it.''
Encarnacion's 13th homer was his only hit in three at-bats after missing the previous two games with a sore left shoulder.
''Anything can happen; I don't want to get hurt again,'' said Encarnacion, who was wary of being injured in the celebration after receiving a cortisone shot prior to missing those two contests. ''They took care of me.''
Though the veteran slugger is batting .221, he has 36 RBIs in 56 games and manager John Gibbons knows the value of having that potent bat in the mix.
''That's why it's so important to have Eddie in the lineup healthy, because he can do that,'' Gibbons said.
"He's a huge threat in our lineup. ... He's one of the best hitters in the game."
A pleasant surprise in the Blue Jays lineup, Chris Colabello had his 18-game hitting streak end Tuesday when he went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts. He's batting .341 in 33 games since making his season debut May 5.
In an effort to conserve the sore arm of right-hander Aaron Sanchez, Toronto will skip his scheduled start Wednesday and hand the ball to fellow rookie Scott Copeland (0-0, 0.00 ERA).
''We can't take a chance so we'll back (Sanchez) off,'' Gibbons said.
The right-hander, who made his major league debut by pitching three scoreless innings over two relief appearances in early May, was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo where he's gone 4-1 with a 2.14 ERA in seven starts.
He will try to contain Giancarlo Stanton, who has homered three times in the first two games of this series and recorded eight of his major league-leading 21 in the last 10 contests. Tuesday marked the third time this season Stanton has homered twice in a game and first that he's done so in 85 interleague contests.
The Marlins (24-35) will look to avoid being swept after entering the series winners in six of nine. Prior to Tuesday, A.J. Ramos converted six straight save chances since taking over the closer role.
"You know what? We get the chance (Wednesday), we'll run him right back out there," Jennings said. "That's how much we believe in him.''
Miami's Tom Koehler (4-3, 3.72) has allowed one or no earned runs in four of his last five starts, including Friday when he yielded one over seven innings of a 6-2 victory at Colorado.
The right-hander went 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA in his first four interleague starts but is 4-0 in his last five despite a 4.67 ERA.