In a rotation wracked by injuries, Esmil Rogers is giving the Toronto Blue Jays some much-needed stability.
Edwin Encarnacion hit a two-run homer, J.P. Arencibia and Maicer Izturis added back-to-back shots, and the Blue Jays won their seventh consecutive game, beating the Colorado Rockies 8-3 Tuesday night.
Rogers (3-2) worked 6 2/3 innings to beat his former team and win his second consecutive start.
“He’s got a dynamite arm,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “He’s really tough on the right-handed hitters. He can let it fly inside. He shut down a good-hitting team.”
Toronto has its longest winning streak since a 10-game run in late 2008.
Gibbons acknowledged the Blue Jays were desperate when they turned to Rogers to start at Atlanta in late May, after injuries to Brandon Morrow, J.A. Happ and Josh Johnson had left their rotation seriously depleted.
Rogers has made that decision look smart, going 2-0 with a 1.71 ERA in four starts since.
“He’s been tremendous, he really has,” Gibbons said.
Rogers didn’t give up a hit until Jonathan Herrera singled with one out in the sixth. He left to a standing ovation after allowing two earned runs and four hits. He walked one and struck out five.
“I’ve got unbelievable confidence right now,” Rogers said. “I can throw any pitch in any count.”
Rogers pitched 70 games over four seasons with the Rockies before being traded to Cleveland last June. The right-hander, who joined Toronto in a trade last November.
Arencibia said Rogers has expanded his repertoire since becoming a starter.
“His sinker is the biggest difference,” the catcher said. “Earlier guys could jump on his fastball. He had a pretty straight fastball. Now, he’s sinking it so you really have to respect it.”
Colorado infielder Nolan Arenado, who grounded into a double play and struck out, gained plenty of respect for Rogers’ sinker.
“It moves a lot; it sinks a lot,” Arenado said. “I didn’t know it sank like that, but it has a lot of sink. He did a very good job (Tuesday).”
The Rockies lost for the fifth time in seven games and dropped to 0-8 at Rogers Centre.
Jeff Francis (2-5) allowed season highs of eight runs and 10 hits in six innings, losing for the first time in four career starts against Toronto. Making just his second start in Canada, the Vancouver, B.C., native walked none and struck out two.
The Blue Jays tagged Francis with a four-run first. Encarnacion hit an RBI double and scored on Adam Lind’s single, Rajai Davis singled home a run and Arencibia capped a six-hit inning with an RBI double.
“I didn’t execute pitches,” Francis said. “You leave them up like that to those guys, and you know they’re going to make you pay, and they did. They got me early.”
Francis responded by setting down 11 straight batters before Melky Cabrera singled in the fifth. One out later, Encarnacion homered to left, his team-leading 19th.
“Encarnacion took a tough pitch and put some good wood on it,” Francis said.
Toronto made it 8-0 when Arencibia and Izturis went deep in the sixth, the first time this season the Blue Jays have hit consecutive home runs. Arencibia’s homer was his 15th, while Izturis hit his fourth.
The Rockies ended Rogers’ shutout bid in the seventh. Carlos Gonzalez led off with a double, and Michael Cuddyer followed with a single, extending his hitting streak to a career-best 16 games. Wilin Rosario hit an RBI single and, one out later, Cuddyer scored on Arenado’s groundout.
Darren Oliver worked the eighth and Steve Delabar finished in the ninth as Toronto improved to 8-5 against NL opponents.