PHILADELPHIA -- Aaron Hill smiled and joked about the benefits of calling Citizens Bank Park home for this weekend series against the Phillies. One positive has been that the Blue Jays have taken pregame batting practice first, customary for any home team.
- 134 wins
- 118 wins
"I like hitting first on the road," Hill said with a laugh. "It gives you some time to hang out."
Another plus is the fact that Philadelphia's ballpark is one of the better stadiums for hitters, playing right into the hands of the home run-happy Blue Jays. On Saturday, Toronto belted three homers, backing a solid performance from Shaun Marcum en route to a 5-1 victory over the reigning National League champions.
All jokes aside, though, as the Blue Jays were running to their second win in the past six games, riots were taking place back in their natural home city. The ballclub moved this weekend series to Philadelphia due to security concerns about the G-20 Summit taking place within walking distance of Rogers Centre in Toronto.
With the gathering taking place in Toronto, there is a heightened police presence, helicopters circling downtown and fencing and barricades surrounding a large area that includes the Jays' home stadium. On Saturday, there were also groups of protesters smashing storefronts and setting police cruisers on fire.
"That's too bad," Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said. "It's really sad. They're tearing up our home."
In Philadelphia, the Blue Jays hope to break even financially -- they have an agreement in place with the Phillies to split portions of the revenues from this weekend -- but it is easy to see why the club felt it was worth it to move the games. As news of the riots in Toronto made their way to the visitors' clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park, the players understood, too.
"I saw a few pictures," Hill said. "They say some cop cars got burned. I think it's a good thing [that they moved the series]. I can't imagine trying -- even the other team -- trying to get down to our ballpark."
So, playing under American League rules, the Blue Jays (40-35) earned a "home" victory on the road in Philadelphia. One day after former Toronto ace Roy Halladay overpowered the Jays' lineup, Marcum showed why he was worthy of moving into Doc's rotation spot by shutting down the Phillies (39-33).
For six innings, Marcum (7-3) used a strong cutter and a sharp changeup to complement his other weapons to keep the Phillies' potent offense in check. The right-hander put up zeroes for the first five frames before slugger Ryan Howard sent a 3-2 offering over the wall in right-center field for a solo home run.
"It's probably one of the better lineups we've seen all year," Marcum said. "It's tough. Once they get runners on base, anyone in that lineup can hit the ball out of the park. The main thing was trying to keep them off base and do damage control when they got on base. We were able to do that today."
The Phillies threatened in the first inning with runners on first and second base and two outs, but Marcum struck out Jayson Werth to escape the jam. Philadelphia put men on the corners in the third, and received a two-out double from Ross Gload in the fourth inning, but Marcum stranded each of those runners.
"The pitch that was getting him strikeouts and groundouts when we needed it," said Blue Jays catcher John Buck, "or a fly ball, was his changeup. It was kind of just the equalizer that we could always go to. It was really dropping off the table well today."
It was a pitch that baffled the Phillies all evening.
"We didn't hit," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "The guys kept coming back saying his changeup was real good."
By the time Howard's sixth-inning blast left the yard, the Blue Jays had already built a sufficient lead to help Marcum to the win.
Buck put Toronto on the board with a two-run shot off Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels in the second inning and Hill followed with a solo blast in the third. Hamels (6-6) was knocked out of the game after four innings after he also surrendered a two-run home run to Alex Gonzalez in the fourth to put Toronto ahead, 5-0.
"We had the home run sticks out today," Gaston said.
The Jays will look to do more of the same on Sunday, when they wrap up this unique home series in Philadelphia -- safely removed from the danger back home in Toronto. That is yet another benefit to the Blue Jays of being at Citizens Bank Park this weekend.
"But you definitely can't call it a home game," Hill said.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.