No letdown this time: Reds rip Blue Jays 11-1
CINCINNATI -- In the wake of an epic collapse Friday night, Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price said his club could either take the sky-is-falling approach or come out Saturday and play well.
“We talked about it as a coaching staff: (Saturday) was a character game,” Price said. “We needed to show up and we needed to get the taste of yesterday’s loss out of our mouth, and move forward and get a win.”
They did so emphatically. Right fielder Jay Bruce homered as the Reds built an eight-run lead for the second straight day, only this time Mike Leake prevented a Toronto Blue Jays rally with eight strong innings in an 11-1 victory at Great American Ball Park.
Less than 24 hours after overcoming an 8-0 lead in a memorable 14-9 victory, Toronto (42-34) couldn’t rally against Leake (5-6), who allowed one run on four hits and two walks and struck out six.
“We never really had a chance today,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “It was another big deficit to overcome. It was a little disappointing after last night, but there’s nothing we can do about it now.”
The historic comeback Friday aside, the American East-leading Blue Jays have scored two runs or less seven times in their past 14 games.
After using six relievers Friday night, the Reds needed innings out of Leake, and he was efficient Saturday, working out of jams in the second and fifth and finishing with 113 pitches.
“Not that you can predict what will happen, but I felt like if I didn’t do that, I wasn’t doing my job,” Leake said. “It sucked to watch (the Blue Jays) creep back into the game last night. It was my job to not let that happen today.”
Catcher Devin Mesoraco capped the scoring Saturday with a three-run homer in the seventh, and first baseman Joey Votto went 2-for-4 with a double, walk and RBI for Cincinnati (36-37).
Center fielder Colby Rasmus hit his 10th home run for the Blue Jays.
Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ (6-4) lasted just four innings, allowing eight runs (seven earned) on seven hits and four walks.
“The walks -- that’s terrible,” Happ said. “That’s obviously frustrating. But with this game, the game is crazy. If some balls were hit a couple of feet either way, it could have been a different story.”
Offensively, Saturday’s game began in much the same fashion as Friday’s for Cincinnati.
Happ issued three straight walks to load the bases ahead of left fielder Ryan Ludwick’s RBI single to center, which put the Reds ahead 2-0. Bruce scored from third on a passed ball, making the score 3-0.
Happ issued four walks, allowed three runs (two earned) and a hit, and threw 37 pitches in the first inning.
Bruce launched a 438-foot solo blast to right with two outs in the third to make the score 4-0. It was his 52nd career homer against left-handers.
“Today he was out of whack,” Gibbons said of Happ. “Chalk one up and move on.”
In the fourth, the Reds ran the score up to 8-0 on center fielder Billy Hamilton’s RBI single, a sacrifice fly to deep center by third baseman Todd Frazier and RBI doubles by Votto and second baseman Brandon Phillips.
Rasmus homered on an 0-2 pitch from Leake in the seventh for Toronto’s lone run.
Mesoraco’s three-run blast off Rob Rasmussen made the score 11-1. Rasmussen pitched three innings, allowing three runs with four strikeouts.
“We have a lot of capable hitters,” Mesoraco said of Cincinnati’s offense, which has scored 20 runs in the first two games of this series. “The runs are going to show up.”
NOTES: Blue Jays SS Jose Reyes left the game with a sore left knee after fouling a pitch off his leg in the fifth. Steve Tolleson replaced him at shortstop. ... Reds RF Jay Bruce has 47 home runs off LHP the past five seasons which leads all major league hitters. ... Reds CF Billy Hamilton extended his career-high hitting streak to 10 games. ... Toronto optioned RHP Liam Hendriks, who was promoted to start Friday’s game, to Triple-A Buffalo and recalled LHP Rob Rasmussen from the Bisons. ... Cincinnati summoned help for its depleted bullpen by recalling RHP Carlos Contreras from Double-A Pensacola and designating for assignment INF/OF Roger Bernadina. Contreras made his debut with a scoreless ninth inning on Saturday. ... Friday night marked the first time since 1896 that a team won by five or more runs after trailing by at least eight runs in the first or second inning.