TORONTO — Toronto Blue Jays’ ace Roy Halladay took the mound Friday night going for a major-league leading 11th win and left it in the fourth inning wondering when he will make his next start.
Halladay left with a strained right groin and it didn’t take long for the Blue Jays to miss him. In the eighth inning Cody Ross hit an 0-2 splitter off Brandon League (1-3) for his third grand slam of the season to end a 2-2 tie and propel the Florida Marlins to a 7-3 victory before a Rogers Centre crowd of 17,922.
League allowed five runs in the eighth to take the loss.
Losing Halladay would be significant for Toronto, who have had their rotation hit hard by injuries over the past year or so.
“Let’s hope it’s okay, that it’s not too bad,” Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said. “We’ll know a little more 1/8Saturday 3/8.”
Halladay said he felt something on his second pitch of the fourth with the Marlins leading 1-0. It was strike two to Marlins right-fielder Jeremy Hermida. Catcher Rod Barajas went to the mound and Gaston and trainer George Poulis followed soon after.
“Barajas went to the mound, which was unusual,” Gaston said. “When they 1/8pitchers 3/8 start walking around on the back of the mound you know something’s going on.”
“I wasn’t exactly sure what it was or what happened,” said Halladay. “But you feel it and I just kind of took a couple of steps and that’s when 1/8Barajas 3/8 came out.”
Halladay tried one warm-up pitch and that was enough. As he trudged from the mound, Scott Richmond of North Vancouver, B.C., came in to replace him from the bullpen.
“I felt it that one pitch,” Halladay said. “It wasn’t a lot of pain right after. I felt it on the next pitch 1/8the warm-up 3/8. It’s one of those things out of nowhere that catches you off guard. Hopefully we’ll find out exactly what’s going on and go from there.”
He said he has never had a problem with a similar injury and there was no indication of an injury before.
“There were no signs of anything, it was just kind of out of nowhere,“ he said. “It’s kind of tough when those things sneak up on you and you really don’t know why. You just feel it and try to make the best out of it.”
Richmond did a good job, allowing two hits 3 2/3 innings and was charged with one run..
Richmond was replaced by left-hander Jesse Carlson after Chris Coghlan’s two-out single in the seventh, the fourth hit of the game for the Marlins’ leadoff hitter.
Carlson gave up Ross Gload’s single that put runners at the corners and was replaced by League who gave up a Hanley Ramirez’s flare to right for the game-tying single.
Hermida led off the decisive eighth with a double to the centre-field wall that went off Vernon Wells’s glove. Dan Uggla walked and John Baker was hit by a pitch to fill the bases for Ross who hit his ninth homer of the season and the fifth grand slam of his career. Gload’s two-out double chased League and Dirk Hayhurst allowed Ramirez’s run-scoring single.
Gaston shuffled his lineup for Friday’s game, splitting his usual third and fourth hitters Alex Rios and Wells respectively who have been struggling. He moved Wells up to third and Rios down to sixth with Adam Lind moved from fifth to fourth. Gaston was hoping to take some of the pressure off Rios by moving him down in the order. The early results of the change were mixed.
Rios started the Blue Jays’ two-run fifth against Marlins’ starter Ricky Nolasco with an infield hit and doubled in the ninth when the Blue Jays scored a run against Christian Martinez.
In the fifth, after Lyle Overbay struck out, Rios stole second in the first pitch to Rod Barajas. Rios stole third as Barajas looked at a third strike and scored on Joe Inglett’s single to left just over the shortstop.
Inglett stole second with Marco Scutaro batting. Ball four to Scutaro was a wild pitch that moved Inglett to third and he scored on Aaron Hill’s single to left for a 2-1 lead.
But Wells heard boos when he ended the inning by striking out for the third time in the game.
Nolasco struck out nine and allowed five hits and one walk in six innings. Left-hander Dan Meyer (1-0) pitched the seventh and picked up the win.
Halladay (10-1), who pitched a shutout against the Kansas City Royals in a 4-0 victory last Sunday, allowed a first-inning run Friday on Coghlan’s leadoff bloop double, a groundout and Ramirez’s sacrifice fly to right.