Over the first two months of the season, Chad Gaudin was lucky if he broke a sweat on most nights.
Now, it feels like he’s getting up and warming up in the Marlins bullpen almost every day.
The 29-year-old right-handed long reliever, who made just nine appearances over the team’s first 51 games, was back on the mound for the eighth time this month on Friday night. And just like all of his previous appearances, he didn’t have a sponge large enough to clean up the Marlins’ latest mess.
After making quick work of starter Anibal Sanchez and scoring six runs off him in just 3 1/3 innings, the Toronto Blue Jays tagged reliever Ryan Webb for six more on their way to a 12-5 victory in front of 22,387 at Marlins Park.
“When you combine walks with power, it’s not a good combination,” Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. “[Sanchez] couldn’t find the strike zone and left a lot of pitches up in the strike zone and when you do that against the Toronto Blue Jays, they’re going to do some damage.
“Hopefully, one of these days of my starting pitchers will go at least six innings.”
The Marlins, tied for first place in the NL East on June 3, fell to 33-37 and eight games out after having lost for the 14th time in their past 16 games. As bad as they’ve been at the plate (they have scored a National League-worst 55 runs in June), their starting rotation has gone 3-14 with a combined ERA of 6.24.
Sanchez, who was 3-3 with a 2.56 ERA at the end of May, lost for the third time in his past four starts. He has given up 20 earned runs over his past 22 1/3 innings as is ERA has ballooned to 3.94. Friday’s start, which featured four walks and seven hits allowed, was his shortest since Aug. 10 of last year.
“I had a very good feeling,’’ Sanchez said. “Everything was coming good. I had a good bullpen and I was feeling good in the warmups and then everything changed in the game. I got behind in the counts. I gave up walks in a bad situation. Right now I just turn to the page, keep working and make adjustments.”
It took the Blue Jays (36-34) just four pitches to jump on Sanchez and grab the lead for starter Ricky Romero, who went seven innings and gave up seven hits and four earned runs to improve to 8-1.
Brett Lawrie, who had three hits off Sanchez, started the game with a leadoff triple down the right-field line and quickly gave Toronto a 1-0 lead when he scored on Colby Rasmus’ groundout to short.
The Blue Jays scored twice more in the third, and then knocked Sanchez out in the fourth. After Sanchez walked Jose Bautista with the bases loaded to make it 4-0, manager Ozzie Guillen went out and took the ball. Gaudin then walked in another run himself before Kelly Johnson’s sacrifice fly made it 6-0.
After the Marlins trimmed that deficit to four, the Blue Jays pounded Webb for five runs in the sixth as they batted around. Bautista then hit his 23rd home run of the season off Webb in the seventh.
“Webb isn’t supposed to be out there for two innings,” Guillen said. “But he was because of the situation we’ve been in.”
If you’re looking for positives, there were a few for the Marlins:• Giancarlo Stanton belted his 16th home run of the season and second in as many games — a 349-foot line drive, solo shot just over the wall in left.
• Hanley Ramirez had two hits and delivered his first RBI since June 3 — a span of 58 at-bats — with a two-out single to left in the fifth.
• Omar Infante, starting to pick up the offense over his past three games, hit his first home run since May 8, a two-run shot to left in the sixth.
• Gaby Sanchez had three hits, including his first home run since April 26, a solo blast to left in the eighth. He’s now 8 for 39 (.205) since being recalled from Triple A on June 10.
But where it matters most — the scoreboard — things aren’t changing yet.
“The pattern is if we’re down early, [and] there is no coming back,” Stanton said. “In May, we still got down and there was a confidence. Now, we’re down two or three early, and there’s no coming back. The energy, the fight, nothing is really there.
“We have to stop worrying about it. Don’t let it get in your head, have fun and remember this is a game.”