TORONTO – Shaun Marcum is a big fan of the Toronto Blue Jays’ powerhouse lineup — especially now that he’s benefiting from it.
Vernon Wells hit one of Toronto’s four homers Tuesday as the Jays blasted the Minnesota Twins 11-2.
Marcum (3-1) held the Twins to five hits and one run in seven innings and has won three of his past four starts with a no-decision. Toronto has scored 30 runs in Marcum’s last four starts after failing to produce much during his first four outings.
The Blue Jays (24-17), who lead the major leagues with 65 homers, had 15 hits to earn a split in the two-game series with the Twins (24-15). The win completes a 4-1 homestand that moves Toronto back to the .500 mark at the Rogers Centre (11-11).
Marcum said he gets a kick out of watching the Jays’ lineup go to work.
“It’s fun to watch and be around,” Marcum said. “These guys can score runs in a hurry and they’ve been doing that all year. It’s nice to out there because it seems like no lead is safe for the other team. We can score in a hurry and come back at any time.”
The Blue Jays, who have 13 comeback wins this season, didn’t need one this time as they scored six runs on 10 hits — including two home runs — in four innings against Twins starter Carl Pavano (4-4).
The Blue Jays open an eight-game trek in Seattle on Wednesday. Marcum won’t be with the team at the outset of the trip — he’s travelling to Dayton, Ohio for the funeral of his grandmother.
“It was a little tough the last couple of days,” Marcum said. “But today I just tried not to focus on it and it was more about going out there and pitching. I think being around the guys and everything helps.”
Marcum, who did not pitch last season as he recovered from reconstructive elbow surgery, leads the American League with 62 innings pitched after Tuesday’s outing. His ERA shrunk to 2.61.
Overbay had three RBIs in the game, driving in one run with a first-inning double and two more with his fourth homer of the season that came in the sixth against Toronto native Jesse Crain.
The 2-for-4 performance left Overbay with a .190 batting average, and he has been the target of Jays fans’ ire. The boos reached their apex on Monday when he committed two errors on the same play during the 8-3 loss to Minnesota.
Overbay’s teammates have been supportive.
“I don’t think anybody’s doubted Lyle all year,” Marcum said. “He’s a great player and in my opinion one of the best defensive first basemen in the game. Lyle is a gamer.”
Wells, off to a strong start this season with 11 home runs, is well aware of what it feels like to be vilified in Toronto. He said he sympathizes with Overbay.
“Been there, done that,” Wells said. “For me going through it is completely different than watching someone else going through it. I can deal with it. It’s tough to watch someone else go through it.
“But he’s handled it well. He’s going to come out of it a better person, I know I did. You learn a lot from your struggles. But it would be nice to come in here and it feel like a home park and (the fans) be supportive no matter what.”
The Blue Jays scored twice in the first inning on a sacrifice fly by Wells and Overbay’s double. Edwin Encarnacion, who came off the disabled list for Tuesday’s game, hit his second home run of the season in the second inning. It scored Jose Bautista who was at first after being hit by a pitch to lead off the inning.
“(Encarnacion) is trying to catch up with the rest of these guys,” said Jays manager Cito Gaston. “It’s great to see and it gave us a quick boost.”
Wells led off the third inning with his 11th homer of the season on the first pitch. It was No. 203 in his career to tie him with Joe Carter at second on the all-time franchise list. Carlos Delgado leads with 336.
“I don’t even know what the milestone is,” Wells said. “It’s another run and helped us win a game. That’s the most important thing.”
Aaron Hill, who took a .173 batting average into the game, snapped an 0-for-13 drought with a three-run homer in the sixth, his fourth of the season, against left-hander Ron Mahay.
Notes: Attendance at the Rogers Centre was 27,981, and consisted mostly of schoolchildren. … Encarnacion’s start at third base was his first since April 14. He went on the disabled list with a sore shoulder and was 1-for-10 with a home run in three rehabilitation games with class-A Dunedin.