PHILADELPHIA -- Now there's something you don't see every day: A Blue Jays laugher.
Low-stress victories are not exactly the Blue Jays way. Indeed, these Jays just don't seem to do anything the easy way, so last night's 13-2 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies is one for the record book. More importantly, maybe even something to build upon.
Heading into last night's game, it had been three full weeks since the Jays had scored as many as seven runs in a game. Even though they've now won six of their past eight games, the Jays have been something less explosive than expected on offence. Their recent record can be largely attributed to excellent pitching but on this rare night they received a combination of the two.
Shaun Marcum, following his six sparkling no-hit innings last Sunday, worked another four no-hit innings to start last night's game, then hung around through the sixth to get the win. Meanwhile, and this is the news, the Jays erupted for four runs in the third, three more in the fourth and then, after the Phillies had tried to rally, raked them for six more add-on runs in the eighth.
The Jays hit three home runs, accounting for nine of the 13 runs. Troy Glaus belted a two-run shot in the third, Lyle Overbay followed with a three-run bomb in the fourth and the cherry on top of this one was a Matt Stairs grand slam in the eighth.
Earlier in the day, manager John Gibbons had been lamenting the stress that the lack of offence had been putting on the pitching staff, especially the young starters who are still trying to get their feet wet.
"If you're scoring runs, then it gives those kids some breathing space," Gibbons said. "To this point, we just haven't been giving them that. But we know these guys are going to hit."
Last night the hitters went from knowing it to doing it.
"Usually on a team, there's a couple of guys going through rough times at the plate and the others pick them up," Overbay said. "But this time, we all sucked. Tonight, you could feel the bench loosening up."
Through four innings, Marcum faced the minimum 12 men. He did walk Pat Burrell with one out in the second, but he was erased on a double-play ball hit by Greg Dobbs. Combined with Marcum's six no-hit innings in his last start, he had run his hitless streak to an impressive 10 innings, tying a team record he now shares with Dave Stieb and David Cone.
But the streak ended rather emphatically in the fifth. Phillies' second baseman Chase Utley led off with a long home run, his eighth of the season. One out later, Dobbs doubled to left-centre and then Dobbs was promptly driven home on Abraham Nunez's single. But that's where it ended.
Marcum's fifth inning hiccup didn't have any serious impact on the game, largely because he already was operating in the comfort zone of a 7-0 Blue Jays lead, the first time since a 7-3 win over the Texas Rangers on April 29, that the team had scored at least seven runs in a game.
"It's huge. You've got a little bit more room for error," Marcum said. "If you do miss a spot, they can't hit a six-run homer to tie the game. It's nice to have that comfort."
Last night, Philadelphia starter Jamie Moyer, now 44, was just what the doctor ordered for the ailing Jays' offence. They climbed all over the lefty's fastball, which topped out at 81 m.p.h., scoring four runs in the third inning. After an Alex Rios walk, Overbay hit a ball to right-centre that Aaron Rowand misplayed into a triple. Vernon Wells then delivered Overbay home with his first RBI since April 28 on a single.
Wells was able to trot home himself a moment later when Glaus lined his eighth homer of the year into the left-field seats. Overbay chased Moyer from the game an inning later when he belted his sixth homer, scoring John McDonald and Rios ahead of him.