Jays use five taters to mash Indians
Season-high effort includes Scutaro's first multi-homer game
TORONTO -- Ricky Romero thought he'd have a little fun with Blue Jays shortstop Marco Scutaro prior to Wednesday night's game against the Indians. The rookie pitcher went over to the veteran infielder and gave him a hard time about his lack of power of late.
After Scutaro launched two home runs to help propel Toronto to a 10-6 victory over Cleveland, the joke was on Romero.
"Before the game, I was like, 'Let's go, man. When's the last time you hit a home run?'" Romero said with a laugh. "I was just joking with him. He goes out and hits two today, which is kind of funny."
The pair of shots from Scutaro marked the first multi-homer game of his career and were two of the season-high five dingers belted by the Blue Jays, who have won three of their past four games after having only three wins in the previous 16 contests. The offensive outpouring helped Romero find the win column after an inconsistent outing.
Vernon Wells, Alex Rios, Aaron Hill and Scutaro each cleared the fence for Toronto (47-48), making for an abbreviated evening on the mound for Cleveland starter Carl Pavano. Each of the Blue Jays' first four hits were solo homers, and Pavano was sent to the showers after allowing seven runs on seven hits, including six for extra bases, in 4 2/3 innings.
Seven different players contributed at least one hit for the Jays, seven of the nine starters drove in at least one run and seven crossed home plate at least once. That type of production up and down the lineup is something Toronto has not managed much recently.
"It's definitely nice to see that," Scutaro said. "Lately, we haven't played as a team. Sometimes we hit, but we don't pitch. Sometimes we pitch, but we don't hit. Hopefully, we just start playing like we did in the first two months."
In the fifth inning, Pavano sent an 0-2 fastball Scutaro's way, and the shortstop ripped it to left-center field for his seventh home run of the season to put the Blue Jays ahead, 4-1. That homer was Scutaro's first since June 23, ending a 21-game stretch without a dinger, and he immediately headed Romero's way after crossing home plate.
It was Scutaro's turn to have some fun with the rookie.
"After the first home run, he came over," Romero said with a smile. "I looked at him and he kind of tapped me on the head. We were just kind of laughing."
By the end of the fifth inning, the Jays had built a 7-1 lead. An inning later, after Romero surrendered a three-run homer to Indians second baseman Luis Valbeuna in the top of the sixth, Scutaro delivered again. This time, Scutaro sent a 1-1 offering from reliever Jose Veras to left field for a three-run homer, pushing Toronto to a 10-4 advantage.
The five homers by the Jays were the most the club belted in one game since June 23, 2006.
"The last thing I was expecting today was to hit two homers," said Scutaro, who matched a career high with four RBIs. "It feels nice."
Romero (8-4) was grateful for all the offensive support.
Over his last two outings, Romero has labored with his command, issuing 10 walks over just 9 2/3 innings. Against the Indians (37-58), the young left-hander walked five and struck out just two, allowing four runs on six hits over 5 1/3 frames. Romero yielded one run in the first and the three-run homer in the sixth, but he managed to strand six other baserunners.
Prior to his past two starts, in which Romero has allowed eight runs, he fashioned a 2.38 ERA over eight starts, with 20 walks over 56 2/3 innings. Romero said he is working through some mechanical issues right now and plans on tackling the problem this week.
"I think I'm just being overly aggressive right now," Romero said. "This game's all about rhythm, and right now I just don't seem to have rhythm out there."
In each of the first two innings, Romero put the first two runners on base. It was evident early that it was going to be the type of game that would probably require plenty of help from Toronto's lineup, which hadn't scored at least 10 runs since May 27.
"I just thought the whole night Ricky didn't have a good night," Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said. "He didn't pitch his best today. What'd he have, two strikeouts? That's not him. He was struggling with his control the whole time. I've seen him better -- a lot better. Sometimes you're going to get away with a win like that."
For that, Romero can thank his offense, which bailed him out in a big way -- much like the lineup did often for its pitchers during the club's hot start in April and May.
Romero might consider poking fun at Scutaro before each of his starts from now on.
"Yeah, I probably should," Romero said with a laugh.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.