Blue Jays-Marlins Preview
By NOEY KUPCHAN
(AP) -- As the losses continue to pile up, the Miami Marlins appear to be reaching their wits end.
The Marlins try to avoid a season-worst seventh consecutive defeat and 16th in 18 games Sunday when they conclude a three-game set with the Toronto Blue Jays, winners of six of eight.
Miami (33-38) has been downright awful over the course of its 2-15 slide, getting outscored 120-42 while batting .160 with runners in scoring position. The Marlins have gone 2 for 16 in such situations since Toronto came to town, and they were limited to a double and four singles in Saturday's 7-1 loss.
"It just seems like we're finding different ways to lose," starter Josh Johnson said. "That's pretty much what it boils down to."
Batting .292 during its 6-2 run, Toronto (37-34) broke things open with a six-run ninth inning. Edwin Encarnacion had the tiebreaking solo homer before Colby Rasmus hit a grand slam - his fourth long ball in six games.
"Right now we should be embarrassed," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. "We played tight. I think we are waiting for something bad to happen. This game is about making things happen, not to make the bad thing happen. The only way you survive out of this is get your head out of your butt and start playing."
Bad things have been happening for Mark Buehrle (5-8, 3.82 ERA), who is looking to avoid losing five consecutive outings for the first time since July 2-26, 2006. He's 0-4 with a 5.48 ERA this month.
The veteran left-hander surrendered season highs of six runs and three homers in five innings of Tuesday's 7-5 loss at Boston.
Buehrle, seeking a major league-record 25th interleague victory, has lasted longer than six innings just once during his current skid.
"I want to go deep into games, as deep as I can, but if you keep on getting hit around and giving up runs, it's going to get you out of the game pretty early," he told MLB's official website.
Besides pitching back at home, where he's allowed two runs or fewer in five of seven starts, Buehrle could benefit from facing the Blue Jays. While with the Chicago White Sox, Buehrle went 6-4 versus Toronto with a 2.64 ERA - his lowest career mark against any AL club.
Jose Bautista is the only active Blue Jays player to have taken Buehrle deep, going 7 for 22 with one homer in their matchups.
Dealing with injuries to Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison, Toronto has decided to give Jesse Chavez (0-0, 8.22) another shot Sunday.
The 28-year-old right-hander was knocked around in his first big-league start Tuesday, yielding four runs, three hits and four walks over 2 2-3 innings of a 10-9 win at Milwaukee.
"It's challenging, there's no doubt about it," general manager Alex Anthopoulos said of the team's injury-plagued rotation. "But I'm sure if you sit with the other 29 GMs, they have their own challenges. Other teams have had their position players go down. At the end of the day, you just put your head down and accept the challenge and do what you can."
The Blue Jays, who entered this weekend having dropped eight straight in this series, have never swept the Marlins.
Updated June 23, 2012