TORONTO — Marco Estrada sees it all coming together for the Toronto Blue Jays.
He was the beneficiary of a six-run first inning in an 11-3 victory over the Miami Marlins on Monday that extended the Blue Jays’ season-best winning streak to six games.
What’s working for Toronto?
“Everything,” said Estrada (3-3), who allowed seven hits and three runs while striking out six in seven innings. “Our starters are going deep into games. Our offence has been unreal. We’re scoring a lot of runs.
“It makes our job a little bit easier. And obviously the bullpen has done a great job also.”
First baseman Chris Colabello extended his hit streak to a career-best 18 games and designated hitter Josh Donaldson homered and had three runs batted in for the Blue Jays (29-30), who had every starter get at least one hit and score one run.
“We’re just putting it all together lately,” said the right-handed Estrada, who has pitched seven innings in three of his past four starts. “It’s been pretty remarkable just watching everybody do their thing, it’s been a lot of fun. We’re too good of a team to be under .500. It’s been a lot of fun watching these guys play their hearts out and play as hard as they have.”
Designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton homered for Miami (24-34). Marlins left-hander Brad Hand (1-2) allowed six hits and six runs in two-thirds of an inning in the opener of a three-game interleague series.
“I just didn’t execute pitches,” Hand said. “I got the ball up and they got to me. You can’t leave your bullpen out to dry like that on the first day of a series.”
Centre-fielder Kevin Pillar, who was 2 for 3 with two walks and two RBIs, said the first inning was fun. “Especially hitting in the bottom of the lineup, it’s always fun to get up in the first inning.
“It means we’ve got runners on base, we’ve scored some runs. More importantly, it’s huge for our pitchers. He gets to go out there and just pound the zone and he’s done a great job. And it’s awesome to get a guy like that a huge lead.”
It was the first game between the teams since they made a blockbuster trade on Nov. 19, 2012.
The Blue Jays sent catcher Jeff Mathis, shortstops Adeiny Hechavarria and Yunel Escobar, pitchers Henderson Alvarez, Justin Nicolino and Anthony DeSclafani and outfielder Jake Marisnick to the Marlins.
Toronto received shortstop Jose Reyes, pitchers Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson, infielder Emilio Bonifacio, and catcher John Buck from Miami.
The Blue Jays big first inning on Monday was started by a single by Reyes and a one-out single by right fielder Jose Bautista. Colabello then extended his hit streak to 18 games with an RBI single.
Catcher Russell Martin walked, third baseman Danny Valencia hit a two-run double and Pillar hit a two-run single.
After second baseman Munenori Kawasaki hit a two-out RBI double, Hand was replaced by right-hander Andre Rienzo.
Donaldson led off the second with his 16th homer of the season.
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons, who was celebrating his 53rd birthday, was ejected from the game in the second after Bautista struck out on a checked swing. Gibbons argued that Bautista had held back his swing.
Marlins third baseman Martin Prado led off the fourth with a single and Stanton followed with his 19th homer of the season to cut the lead to 7-2.
Toronto scored an unearned run in the fifth to go ahead 8-2. Martin and Pillar walked and left-fielder Ezequiel Carrera forced Pillar out at second. Carrera stole second and Martin came home on catcher J.T. Realmuto’s errant throw.
Stanton doubled and centre-fielder Marcell Ozuna singled to produce a sixth-inning run for Miami.
The Blue Jays scored three in the seventh against right-hander Vin Mazzaro on doubles by Valencia and Carrera, walks to Kawasaki and Reyes, and a two-run single by Donaldson.
Notes: 1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion (sore left shoulder) was not in the Blue Jays’ starting lineup for the second game in a row Monday after having a cortisone shot on Saturday. He could return Tuesday. …3B Josh Donaldson was designated hitter for the Blue Jays Monday with INF/OF Danny Valencia starting at third base. …The Marlins put RHP Bryan Morris (lower back strain) on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Sunday and recalled LHP Adam Conley from triple-A New Orleans. In 10 starts at New Orleans, Conley was 5-2 with a 3.05 ERA. …RHP Dan Haren (6-2, 3.18 ERA) will start Tuesday for the Marlins in the middle game of the three-game series against Blue Jays LHP Mark Buehrle (7-4, 4.35 ERA).
Larry Millson, The Canadian Press