MILWAUKEE — Ryan Goins left a strong impression in what might be his last game as the Toronto Blue Jays’ regular shortstop.
A grand slam could help Goins continue to get playing time once the injured Troy Tulowitzki returns to the lineup.
Goins’ sixth-inning grand slam was one of four homers hit by the Blue Jays in an 8-4 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday. The Blue Jays swept the two-game interleague series and wrapped up a seven-game road trip with three straight victories.
Tulowitzki and third baseman Josh Donaldson, who are both on the 10-day disabled list, could return from minor-league rehab assignments when the team opens a series this weekend against Texas.
Goins might be relegated back to a utility role just as he extended his modest hitting streak to three games, going 5 of 10 in that stretch.
“Yeah, I think I can play every day, so that’s what I come to work for every day, playing or not and now it will be interesting to see,” he said.
Goins is known especially for a good glove. But the left-handed hitter had been in a slump that forced his average to dip to .185 before his recent hot stretch.
“Tulowitzki isn’t far off so his playing time is going to dwindle,” manager John Gibbons said. “He’s always believed he’s an everyday player and he’s had a chance to show everyone here that he can do it.”
Kevin Pillar, Devon Travis and Jose Bautista hit solo shots for the Blue Jays, who have homered in four straight games. Bautista’s towering shot caromed off the Miller Lite sign high above the center-field wall 400 feet from the plate.
“Bautista is locked in right now, you can tell,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said.
Marcus Stroman (5-2) allowed four hits and a season-high four walks but won his fourth straight game, pitching into the sixth before Domingo Santana’s two-out, three-run homer cut Toronto’s lead to four.
The bullpen ended the afternoon by retiring 10 of the Brewers’ final 11 hitters.
“Great job. This is a tough ballpark to pitch in. It really flies here. But they stepped up,” Gibbons said about his relievers.
Milwaukee lost its third straight game.
Matt Garza (2-1) had the worst outing of his season, allowing seven hits and six runs over 5 2/3 innings. His ERA ballooned from 2.43 to 3.60 after giving up three homers.
Garza retired the side over the first three innings and had good command of his slider, Counsell said.
“But as the game went on he didn’t get away with any mistakes with his fastball. He left some fastballs up out over the plate and they put some good swings on them,” the skipper said.
A 12-year veteran, Garza said he is evolving as a pitcher by not relying as much on his fastball and trying keep hitter off-balance by using all his pitches. He did find at least one bright spot.
“I didn’t walk a guy again today so I’m pretty pumped about that,” Garza said.
Bautista went 2 of 4 for his seventh multi-hit game in his last 11. He extended his on-base streak to 16 games. … Keon Broxton hit his fifth homer of the year, a solo shot, to open the scoring in the third off Stroman.
Blue Jays: Donaldson (right calf) went on the DL on April 14, while Tulowitzki was sidelined nine days later. … OF Anthony Alford was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a fractured left wrist. Alford got hurt while striking out in the ninth inning of Toronto’s 4-3 win on Tuesday night. He had snapped an 0-for-6 streak to start his career two innings earlier with a pinch-hit double. OF Dwight Smith Jr. was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo to replace Alford. Smith picked up his first career hit with a double in the ninth.
Brewers: OF Ryan Braun got a day off from the starting lineup, two games after being activated from the disabled list with a strained left calf.
Blue Jays: After a day off Thursday, Toronto returns to the Rogers Centre to begin its three-game set on Friday against Texas.
Brewers: The Arizona Diamondbacks arrive in Milwaukee to open a four-game series in a matchup of early surprise teams in the National League. Zach Davies (5-2, 5.44 ERA) takes the hill for the Brewers.