One of the most stunning comebacks in franchise history might have given the Toronto Blue Jays the boost they need to get back on track and protect their AL East lead.
J.A. Happ looks to give another strong outing while the Blue Jays’ hitters try to add to Cincinnati Reds right-hander Mike Leake’s recent woes Saturday.
Toronto (42-33) looked like it was heading for a season high-tying fourth straight loss and its 10th in 13 games when it fell behind 8-0 in the second inning of Friday’s series opener in Cincinnati. The Blue Jays, though, came away with a 14-9 victory by scoring 11 runs over the final four innings and broke a tie with five in the ninth.
"That kind of thing happens," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "But I can’t remember one like this – not at this level."
Edwin Encarnacion went deep twice – giving him a major league-best 23 homers – and drove in a career-high six runs in his first start against his former club. He’s hit 21 homers in 42 games since May 6.
The Blue Jays’ second-largest rally in any contest kept them 1 1/2 games in front of the New York Yankees in the division. The Blue Jays, who led by six games June 6, were swept in three games at Yankee Stadium earlier this week.
Happ (6-3, 4.05 ERA) looks to build on his best outing in weeks after giving up one run over six-plus inning in Sunday’s 5-2 win at Baltimore. He was 1-2 with a 6.11 ERA in his previous three outings.
The left-hander seeks to win a fifth consecutive road start and lead Toronto to a franchise-best fifth consecutive interleague road victory. He is 1-2 with a 5.64 in five career starts against the Reds (35-37), last facing them June 1, 2012, while with Houston.
Leake (4-6, 3.80) is 1-2 with an 8.22 ERA in three starts this month and hasn’t made it through the sixth inning in any of those games. He gave up four runs in five innings Sunday in Milwaukee while allowing a season high-tying nine hits and three walks, but got the win from a 13-4 rout.
The Reds have lost back-to-back games after winning six of seven and issued nine walks while blowing an eight-run lead in a loss for the first time since May 20, 2010.
"I don’t know what it is," manager Bryan Price said. "Fortunately, it’s only one loss. It’s an ugly type of loss. It’s the type of loss that affects everybody."
Leake, 3-1 with a 2.47 ERA in his last 10 starts against AL opponents, gave up three runs in seven innings to lose his lone matchup with Toronto on June 17, 2011 in Cincinnati.
Erik Kratz, who doubled in the go-ahead run Friday, is 3 for 5 with a pair of homers in his career against Leake.
Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips is 6 for 12 with three home runs lifetime versus Happ.