TORONTO – It was more of the same for the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday.
Their starting pitcher did not survive the fourth inning, Vernon Wells did not have a hit and the Florida Marlins beat them 11-3 to complete a three-game interleague sweep at Rogers Centre.
The Marlins got a complete-game, seven-hitter from Josh Johnson (6-1) and in his support rapped out 18 hits. Ten against Blue Jays starter Brian Tallet (4-4), who gave up eight runs in 3 1/3 innings in front of 20,985.
Catcher Ronny Paulino had four hits including two-homers – a two-run drive against Tallet in the second and the other against Brandon League in the ninth – and drove in three runs to lead the Marlins who since interleague play began in 1997 are 17-4 against the Blue Jays including a 10-2 record in Toronto.
Johnson’s only blips in the 119-pitch outing, his second complete game of the season, came in the fourth inning when Alex Rios hit a two-run homer – his ninth of the season – on a changeup, and Kevin Millar turned on a fastball for his fourth homer of the season. But all that did was make the score 8-3.
Johnson was quick to give credit to Paulino both for his hitting and his calling of the game.
“He’s the star of the game right there,” Johnson said. “I pretty much just follow him. We’re always on the same page and, if we’re not, he pretty much goes right to what I’m thinking.”
In the other clubhouse, Tallet was lamenting pitches that found the middle of the plate too often, leading to his shortest start of the season and increased his earned-run average to 4.87.
“There were a lot of pitches that were right in the middle, ” he said. “When that happens they hit them hard and that’s what happened.”
On Friday night, Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay came out of the game with a mild groin strain after his second pitch of the fourth inning and is tentatively scheduled to start against next weekend against the Washington Nationals.
On Saturday, Blue Jays starter Casey Janssen lasted 3 2/3 innings. With Tallet also coming out in the fourth it made it a long weekend for the bullpen and means Monday’s off-day comes at a good time.
Tallet said he will try to work on what went wrong Sunday when he throws in the bullpen between starts.
“It’s just a matter of figuring out what you’re doing wrong and making the adjustments,” he said. “And today I wasn’t able to do that on the mound so what’ll we do? We’ll go to the bullpen and figure out what we’re doing wrong.
“You grow from it and learn. If you don’t learn anything from it, it’s a horrible day. But if you learn something from it, it’s just a bad day at the office and you can get better.”
Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston shuffled his lineup for the opening game of the series on Friday, moving Wells from fourth to third, Rios from third to sixth and Adam Lind from fifth to fourth.
Wells went 0-for-12 in the series to lower his batting average to .238 and he has been stuck at five home runs since May 6.
Despite going 0-for-3 with a walk Sunday he did feel better about his at-bats. Second baseman Dan Uggla made fine play to take away a hit from him in the third and he lined out to deep centre in the fifth.
“My timing was a lot better,” Wells said. “I was trying to be more active at the plate. I’ve done a lot of comparisons from three years ago and things like that. Where I was making contact timing-wise everything seemed to be reminiscent of that. It’s just a matter of continuing to practise that and stay with that and not vary from it anymore.”
The last time the Blue Jays played the Marlins was in June of 2006 and Florida swept all three games with Johnson, then a rookie, winning one of the games. Sunday his fastball reached as high as 98 mph and the slider as high as 88. His earned-run average is 2.76.
“Everything’s hard, his fastball’s hard, his slider’s hard,” Wells said. “He mixes in a couple of changeups here and there. He’s got good stuff.
“Obviously he made a couple of mistakes but even the ball that Alex hit out was a good changeup and he put a great swing on it. He did what he did to us in 2006.”
While Lind also is 0-for-12 since the lineup shuffle, Rios has done better going 7-for-12 with two home runs.
“I hope he’s out of that funk, he’s swinging the bat now,” Gaston said. “You can tell these guys every day about getting started (early enough with their swings). But they have to feel it themselves. I think he’s getting started now.”
NOTES: After the Monday off-day, the Blue Jays will play three-game interleague series in Philadelphia against the World Series champion Phillies and in Washington against the Nationals. …The Blue Jays are scheduled to start left-hander Ricky Romero (3-3, 3.71 earned-run average), Scott Richmond (4-3, 3.90 ERA) and Casey Janssen (2-3, 6.23 ERA). The Phillies are scheduled to start left-hander Cole Hamels (4-2, 4.62 ERA) on Tuesday with the next two starters yet to be named. …Halladay did a little bit of throwing Sunday and Gaston said his program for the week will go according to how he feels. “If he feels good, he’ll throw some on the side again,” Gaston said. “If he doesn’t, he won’t. I don’t want him to rush himself. It’s better to have a week or a couple of weeks without Doc than to have months without him.” Halladay came out of Friday’s start with a mild groin strain and would normally have pitched this coming Thursday but now is tentatively scheduled to start against the Nationals on Saturday. …Among the 20 signings from last week’s draft announced Sunday by the Blue Jays was 34th-round Jonathan Fernandez, a shortstop like his father, Tony, a former Blue Jay. First baseman Lance Durham, a 14th-round pick, is the son of former major-leaguer Leon.