Encarnacion homers thrice in Jays' loss
Toronto's six solo dingers not enough to overcome D-backs
PHOENIX -- Edwin Encarnacion accomplished a feat that he had never experienced before in his baseball career -- at any level.
Toronto achieved something that only one other big league team had managed to do in a game in the past nine decades.
Yet for all the historic power on display at Chase Field on Friday night -- and there was plenty to go around for the homer-happy Blue Jays -- Toronto was not able to avoid an 8-6 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks in its Interleague opener. The hole created by Brandon Morrow's abbreviated outing proved too deep.
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Encarnacion launched three home runs to lead Toronto's offensive assault against starting pitcher Dan Haren and the D-backs. As a group, the Jays' offense pounded out six home runs, but none of the blasts came with the benefit of any baserunners. That put Toronto alongside the 1991 A's as the only clubs since 1920 to have six homers account for all its offense in a single contest.
It also left the Blue Jays a bit baffled.
"I'd have to go back and look," said Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston, "but it seems like if we hit that many home runs, we usually win."
All kidding aside, the final result left a sour taste in the mouths of the Blue Jays' players. The six blasts -- beyond Encarnacion's performance, Fred Lewis, Jose Bautista and Adam Lind each clubbed solo shots in the loss -- were a season best, and also increased Toronto's Major League-leading total to 72 home runs this season.
The last time a Major League team lost when belting six home runs was on Aug. 28, 2007, when Tampa Bay accomplished the dubious feat. The six homers also marked the most in a loss in team history, eclipsing the five Toronto hit in a loss to the Brewers in 1988 and in a loss to the Mariners in '99.
"It was weird," Bautista said. "I've never seen that before. I don't think that's very common. It was fun hitting them, but ultimately we want to win."
Lewis set the tone with a leadoff shot off Haren to open the game. Then, Encarnacion and the other bombers went to work on chipping away at the damage done by Morrow's issues -- aided by a poorly-played fly ball in the midst of Arizona's four-run outburst in the fourth. Compounding matters were the two runs later allowed by Jays relievers Josh Roenicke and Casey Janssen.
"We're swinging the bats good," said Bautista, whose eighth-inning blast gave him 13 this season. "It was just a rough pitching game today, but that happens every now and then."
Morrow (3-4) allowed a two-run homer to Arizona's Adam LaRoche in the second inning to put the Jays (25-19) behind, 2-1, and then the right-hander surrendered the fourth-inning four spot. Two batters into the frame, Encarnacion and Lewis collided in shallow left field while attempting to track down a fly ball off the bat of LaRoche, who wound up with an unlikely double.
"That's pretty much Freddy's ball there," Gaston said.
Mark Reynolds followed with a two-run double and Haren later added a two-base hit of his own that plated another pair, securing a 6-1 lead for the D-backs (19-24). That was the final inning for Morrow, who only walked one, but took the loss after allowing eight hits. Haren -- the winner behind eight innings of work -- finished 2-for-4 with two doubles and three RBIs.
Of course, Haren (5-3) was also tagged for four home runs in his win, making him the first D-backs pitcher to pull that off since Curt Schilling did so in 2001. Two of the homers relinquished by Haren came off the bat of Encarncacion, who added his third shot off Arizona reliever Juan Gutierrez in the ninth.
Encarnacion became the second Blue Jays player to launch three homers in a game this year. Catcher John Buck also accomplished the feat against the A's on April 29 in Toronto.
"I've got to gives thanks to my God," said Encarncacion, who has five homers this year. "He blessed me tonight -- a good game for me tonight. We lost the game -- that's the bad thing -- but we've got to keep playing like we've been playing."
Encarnacion returned from the disabled list on Monday following a bout with a sore right shoulder. Since rejoining Toronto's lineup, the third baseman has collected four hits -- all homers. Encarnacion drilled an 89-mph fastball from Haren deep to left in the fifth inning and then crushed a 79-mph curve off a wall beyond the seats in left-center field in the seventh.
"He's one of the guys that we were missing," Gaston said. "He tried to catch up tonight, didn't he?"
Asked about his mammoth shot to center in the seventh, Encarnacion smiled.
"I just see the ball and hit it," he said.
With two outs in the ninth inning, Encarnacion pulled an 83-mph curve from Gutierrez into the stands beyond the left-field wall, cutting Arizona's lead to 8-5. Lind -- out of the starting lineup because there is no designated hitter in the National League park -- entered as a pinch-hitter and promptly pulled a pitch over the wall in right.
Unfortunately for the Blue Jays, that was the last of the fireworks.
"All solos, man," said Gaston, shaking his head. "We just need to mix in a few base hits once in a while."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.