TORONTO — The wayward Vernon Wells could not rescue a shaky Blue Jays pitching staff during a 6-5 loss to the visiting Florida Marlins Saturday before 20,634 baseball fans at Rogers Centre.
Coming off a year-long rehabilitation from a torn labrum in his right shoulder, Jay’s starter Casey Janssen struggled through 3 2-3 innings giving up five runs on eight hits.
Jeremy Hermida homered in the third, and Jays-killer Cody Ross followed up his grand slam Friday by nailing a Janssen breaking ball in the fourth to make it 5-0.
“I just think, first of all, it looked like he got his cutter up a lot today,” said Cito Gaston of Janssen. “He had a little trouble getting his breaking ball over and, the fastball counts, if he threw his breaking ball, it was down and it was a ball and he had to come back and throw his fastball.”
In his fifth start of the season, the 27-year-old former reliever fell to 2-3, ballooning his ERA to an unsightly 6.23. David Purcey, also 27, carried a 7.01 ERA through five starts in April before losing his job.
Marlins rookie-starter Sean West survived 5 2-3 innings, improving to 2-2 on the season.
An RBI double by Hanley Ramirez scored Chris Coghlan in the first, and a double-play ball hit by Coghlan in the sixth plated Cody Ross from third base and accounted for the Marlin’s last run.
With the Jays down 6-2 in the sixth, Lyle Overbay, named American League player of the week June 7, jolted a two-run shot to put Jays within two.
Marco Scutaro led off the seventh with a walk, advancing to second base on a walk to Aaron Hill. Vernon Wells gifted third baseman Wes Helms a light grounder which he launched into centre field, while trying to throw out Hill at second before Scutaro wheeled home to make the score 6-5.
Wells blew a golden opportunity when he struck out in the bottom of the ninth with Rod Barajas standing on second base, ending the game and a miserable 0-for-5 day at the plate.
Cursed by at least one baseball god, Wells finished the game on a 0-for-14 skid. Through June 13, he is batting .241 overall and .149 with runners in scoring position. Gaston moved him up to the number three spot Friday after 62 consecutive games batting clean-up.
One gets the feeling that the streaky Wells, a two-time all-star, is capable of captaining a sinking HMCS Blue Jay, or sailing it safely into October.
The loss gives the Jays an unseemly 0-5 record in interleague play and 4-16 lifetime record against Florida.
Alex Rios, 4-for-4 with a two-run dinger in the fourth, seems to have reversed his fortunes since Gaston moved him down from number three to six in the batting order. Rios stole second base in the eighth, but catcher John Baker threw him out when he tried to steal third.
“You’d like to see him safe, but we’re not swinging the bats that well,” said Gaston. “So, we’ve got to try to make something happen. He stole second base and gave us a chance to drive him in.”
In middle-relief, Sean Camp lasted three innings allowing one run. BJ Ryan lowered his mountainous ERA, from 6.91 to a slightly less ridiculous 6.46 in one scoreless inning of work. Jason Frasor (4-0), one of the few bright lights out of the bullpen, and closer Scott Downs held down the fort in the final two frames to give the Jays a chance.