Mets 6 Blue Jays 3
TORONTO — Marcus Stroman switched up his warm-up music for his Wednesday start, using Drake’s “Trophies” as a tribute to former teammate Jose Bautista.
Bautista, who used ”Trophies” as his walk-up music during Toronto’s playoff-bound seasons in 2015 and 2016, may have benefited more from hearing it than Stroman did.
The former Blue Jays slugger drove in the eventual winning run and scored as part of New York’s five-run fifth inning as the Mets defeated Toronto 6-3 to split their two-game interleague series.
“I love (Bautista) from the bottom of my heart,” Stroman said when asked about the music change. “He’s a huge friend, a mentor of mine and I respect and value him for not only teaching me things about baseball but about life in general.
“He’s someone I go to when I’m going through things and he’s a true friend.”
Bautista received a warm ovation before his at bat in the first inning from the 26,038 in attendance — and a round of applause from Stroman on the mound. The 37-year-old right-fielder tipped his batting helmet and waved to the fans before stepping into the box.
He was 1 for 5 with the RBI on Wednesday after going 1 for 2 with three walks during his return to Rogers Centre on Tuesday night.
“I faced (Stroman) before in the World Baseball Classic (in 2017) but it definitely doesn’t make it normal by any means,” Bautista said. “It’s still kind of strange facing a guy that you know so well.”
Stroman (1-6) was chased from the game with two out in the fifth after limiting the damage over his first four innings. The right-hander allowed six runs and six hits, walked four and struck out two over an 85-pitch outing.
“I just didn’t have a feel for anything from Pitch 1, to be honest with you,” Stroman said. “Just had trouble getting my grip on pitches but it is what it is.
“I look forward to the next one.”
Kendrys Morales had three hits, including a homer, and scored all three runs for Toronto (40-46). Lourdes Gurriel Jr., drove him in twice to bring his RBI total to five in two games.
“I’ve been working a lot in the cage,” said Morales, who’s batting .329 (25 for 76) with five homers in his last 24 games. ”I put in a little more work today and it worked out pretty well right away. Hopefully it can keep going.”
Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin had three hits — including his 500th in the American League, becoming one of just seven active players with 500-plus hits in both the AL and NL.
Corey Oswalt gave up two runs and five hits while striking out two and walking one over four innings. Seth Lugo (3-3) earned the win for New York and Jeurys Familia picked up his 16th save.
The Mets (34-49), wearing special Independence Day-themed uniforms, took control of the game with a bat-around fifth inning that included four singles, one double, one homer and one walk.
Todd Frazier started the rally with a two-run shot to straightaway centre field, sparking cheers from a sizable — and vocal — crowd of orange-clad Mets fans in the stadium’s 500 level. Back-to-back run-scoring singles from Bautista and Asdrubal Cabrera ended Stroman’s night, and Michael Conforto tacked on an RBI with a base hit off reliever Luis Santos for a 6-2 lead.
“They got to him in that fifth right there,” manager John Gibbons said. “It was just one of those games, I saw some good things but the consistency wasn’t there.”
Stroman called his outing ”uncharacteristic.”
“Just frustrating going out there when I know I can be better than that and I don’t execute like I should or like I’m capable of,” he said.
Morales gave the Blue Jays a 1-0 lead in the second, launching a no-doubter into the second deck in right field before Brandon Nimmo tied the game in the third on a two-out single.
Gurriel’s first RBI put Toronto ahead 2-1 in the fourth. He drove in his second run in the sixth to trim the deficit to 6-3.
The Blue Jays wore their red Canada Day hats that featured a gold maple leaf on the front. Some players wore knee-high socks with stars and stripes, including Venezuelan Yangervis Solarte.
NOTES: Toronto announced before the game that right-hander Marco Estrada has a mild strain on his left glute. Estrada said he is hopeful of making his next start Tuesday in Atlanta. … The Blue Jays have Thursday off before opening a three-game home series Friday against the New York Yankees.