Blue Jays smack back-to-back homers twice in 7-2 win over Marlins

TORONTO — Scott Copeland’s first stint with the Blue Jays lasted just one game, but that was long enough to make a strong impression on manager John Gibbons.

The 27-year-old Copelan provided the Blue Jays with seven innings of one-run baseball Wednesday afternoon, allowing six hits and striking out seven as Toronto thumped the Miami Marlins 7-2.

“He was unbelievable. I don’t see how you can do it any better than that,” Gibbons said. “I don’t know how many ground balls he had today, but that’s kind of who he is. He really stood out. It was his first start for us. He definitely opened up everybody’s eyes.

“Everybody thought he was good, but to actually go out there and do it, that’s going to help him out in the future.”

Copeland (1-0) was recalled on Tuesday night and made a spot start in place of Aaron Sanchez.

“You just go out there and try to help the team win. Keep the streak they have alive and pound the strike zone and get ground balls. Let players make plays,” the right-hander said. “At first I was up in the zone, but after that first inning I kind of got in the groove and started pounding the zone.

“You just go out there and compete and hopefully the managers and coach’s eyes are open now and next time something happens, I’ll be up here.”

Copeland was returned to triple-A Buffalo after Wednesday’s game, with the Jays saying they will make a counter-move Friday before starting a three-game series in Boston.

Justin Smoak and Russell Martin hit back-to-back homers in the fourth while Jose Reyes and Josh Donaldson went deep in the seventh as Toronto (31-30) moved one game above .500 for the first time since May 9.

The loss drops Miami (24-36) to 3-6 during interleague play this season.

“Obviously we ran into a very hot Blue Jays team,” said Marlins manager Dan Jennings. “They can swing the bats. They’re as good a hitting club as we’ve faced to this point. When we made mistakes, they made us pay. They punish the ball. They hunt the fastball and when you make a mistake with it, they’re swinging.”

Marlins starter Tom Koehler (4-4) allowed six earned runs on eight hits while striking out seven in 6 2/3 innings of work.

The Blue Jays took a 2-0 lead in the second.

Edwin Encarnacion led off the inning with an infield single. Smoak followed it up with a ground rule double. Then Encarnacion scored on a Martin base hit thanks to a throwing error from Marlins’ third baseman Martin Prado.

Two batters later Smoak scored on a sacrifice fly from Kevin Pillar.

Toronto added to its lead in the fourth. Encarnacion got things started with a lead off double off the wall in right. Smoak then took Koehler deep to right field off of the suites in the third deck for his fourth home run of the season.

Martin followed up with a solo shot, his ninth of the season, giving the Blue Jays a 5-0 lead.

Encarnacion finished the day 2-for-3 and left the game following his at-bat in the eighth after his left shoulder injury flared up.

“It feels good. I want to make sure I (don’t re-injure it),” said Encarnacion, who missed two games with the injury earlier in the week. “Take today and tomorrow off and come back again.

“We were winning the game and better to rest.”

Miami got on the board in the fifth when Ichiro Suzuki tripled to centre, scoring Jeff Mathis.

Reyes took Koehler out of the park in the seventh for his second home run of the season and Donaldson followed up with his 17th of the season.

Marcel Ozuna accounted for the other Marlins run, taking Jays reliever Brett Cecil deep in the ninth.

Dhiren Mahiban, The Canadian Press