Blue Jays 8 Reds 2
TORONTO — The good times against Bronson Arroyo kept coming for the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night, and more importantly, they continued at the plate for a resurgent Vernon Wells.
The centre-fielder homered and doubled in extending his hitting streak to eight games during an 8-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds, helping the Jays to a spanking of Arroyo exactly one year to the day the right-hander was pummelled for 10 runs in an inning-plus of work at the Rogers Centre.
Aaron Hill, Wells and Adam Lind each homered in a five-run first and Scott Richmond of North Vancouver, B.C., overcame some early struggles to throw seven strong innings as the Blue Jays (40-33) won their third straight game.
Wells, who also homered Saturday in Washington to end an 160-at-bat drought, is batting .342 (13-for-38) during his hitting streak and appears to be emerging from a lengthy and difficult funk.
“Fans started cheering my new nickname, ‘Boo,’ so I think it’s just feeding off that,” Wells said facetiously in explaining his turnaround.
Some more legitimate reasons for his improvement include his move up one spot to third in the batting order, where he has hit most his career and is most comfortable, and finally locking in to some mechanics at the plate.
“Once I kind of got in a comfort zone it was a matter of sticking with that, not changing back and forth where my hands are, things like that, just sticking with the approach and being consistent with it,” said Wells. “And when you’re consistent with something, hits will start coming.”
Scott Rolen went 1-for-4 to run his hit streak to 13 games (.446, 25-for-56) as the Blue Jays improved to 6-8 against the National League, 2-3 at home, before a crowd of 15,409 on a hot and muggy evening. They effectively decided matters in their first at-bat to hand the Reds (34-36) a fourth consecutive loss.
The opening frame was eerily reminiscent of Toronto’s 14-1 home win over Cincinnati a year ago, when the Blue Jays opened up a 6-0 lead and kept piling on from there.
This time, Marco Scutaro walked, Hill and Wells homered on Arroyo’s next two pitches and after Rolen’s base hit, Lind made it 5-0 with an opposite-field blast to left.
“I kind of had flashbacks of that night,” Wells said of last year’s win. “Aaron getting a slider and not missing it, I got lucky and hit a fastball and Lindy did what he’s been doing, got a fastball up in the zone and put it in the seats.
“It’s a matter of guys knowing what they want to do when they get to the plate and executing.”
Wells added an RBI double in the second and after a scoreless third, Rolen brought home another run with a fielder’s choice. Arroyo’s night ended one batter later when he walked Lind to load the bases, but Josh Roenicke got Alex Rios on a fly ball to left to save him from further damage.
Arroyo (8-6), who had been 19-9 with a 4.19 ERA since last year’s beating, gave up seven runs, six earned in 3 2-3 innings. He’s now 2-5 with a 6.82 ERA in nine career appearances versus the Blue Jays.
“I’ve had a few of those every year at some point but they definitely come quicker here than anywhere else,” Arroyo said of pitching in Toronto. “It was bang, bang bang. Next thing you know it was 5-0.”
Richmond (6-4) made the most of the support despite a messy beginning in which he needed 66 pitches to get through the first three innings, allowing a solo shot by Jonny Gomes in the second and RBI single by Jerry Hairston Jr., in the third. He settled after that and needed just 38 pitches to retire his final 12 hitters in a row.