Blue Jays-Marlins Preview
By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO
(AP) -- 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.
Updated June 22, 2012