Florida 6 Blue Jays 5
TORONTO — The players change but, since the beginning of interleague play in 1997, the Florida Marlins always seem to have the Toronto Blue Jays’ number.
After the Marlins used two-run homers by Jeremy Hermida and Cody Ross to defeat the Blue Jays 6-5 Saturday before a Rogers Centre crowd of 20,634, the Marlins record stood at 16-4 in games between the teams.
The first time the teams met in 1997, the Marlins swept three games from the Blue Jays in Toronto with a team that went on to win the World Series that year. The Marlins will try to complete another three-game sweep of Toronto on Sunday when the series ends. After Saturday’s victory, the Marlins are 9-2 in Toronto.
The Blue Jays are 0-5 this year against Florida and have a losing record (101-115) against the National League in interleague games. Manager Cito Gaston can’t explain why.
“I can’t,” he said. “You know, there are a lot of good American League teams compared to National League teams.”
Gaston hasn’t been involved during most of those years of interleague play, leaving as Blue Jays manager at the end of the 1997 season and returning last June 20.
Before regular-season interleague play, the Blue Jays won the ultimate interleague series, the World Series, twice under Gaston, 1992 and 1993.
The Blue Jays wasted a couple of two-run homers on Saturday, one from Alex Rios, who had four hits in the game as he responds to being dropped on Friday from third to sixth in the batting order.
The other was from Lyle Overbay.
“I don’t think it makes any difference,” Rios said of his position in the lineup. “I’m just trying to keep things simple and hit the ball up the middle.”
Marlins starter, left-hander Sean West (2-1), allowed four hits, including two home runs, four walks and four runs in 5 2/3 innings as he let the Blue Jays cut away at leads of 5-0 and 6-2 in gaining the win.
Matt Lindstrom pitched the ninth for his 12th save despite giving up a leadoff single to pinch-hitter Rod Barajas.
Toronto starter Casey Janssen (2-3) allowed eight hits, including two home runs, and five runs in 3 2/3 innings to take the loss.
“Based on results it’s been a roller-coaster,” Janssen said. “It’s not so much my stuff, it’s the command; it’s pitch location. I feel when those guys hit it it’s when I’m behind in the count.
“I’ve got to work ahead a little bit more.”
After falling behind 5-0 on Ross’s two-homer in the top of the fourth, the Blue Jays came back with Rios’s two-run home run with one out in the bottom of the fourth, his eighth of the season.
The Marlins went ahead 6-2 in the sixth against Sean Camp, started by Ross’s third hit and second double of the game. Wes Helms singled him to third and he scored when Chris Coghlan hit into a double play.
The Blue Jays countered with Overbay’s two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth, his eighth of the season. It followed a two-out single by Rios.
The Blue Jays rallied again in the seventh with one-out walks by Marco Scutaro and Aaron Hill.
Vernon Wells, batting third with the lineup shuffle moving from fourth while Adam Lind moved up to fourth from fifth, chased a first-pitch changeup that he grounded to third baseman Wes Helms who threw wildly in an attempted force at second.
Rios led off the eighth with a single, and then stole second. He was caught trying to steal third for the second out, snuffing out a possible rally.
Rios thought he was safe.
“I think I got a pretty good jump,” he said. “I was just trying to get closer to home plate so my teammates can drive me home.”