TORONTO — Credit Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price for having a sense of humour after his team was on the receiving end of a 17-2 pasting from the Toronto Blue Jays.
"It could have been worse," Price said. "Their third-base coach was compassionate enough to not keep wheeling guys in to score."
Toronto scored early and often in the opener of the three-game interleague series Monday night at Rogers Centre. Russell Martin hit a two-run homer in the second inning off starter Lasalverto Bonilla, Troy Tulowitzki belted a grand slam in the third and Justin Smoak tacked on a three-run shot in the fourth.
When it was all over, the Blue Jays (24-27) nearly doubled their season high for runs scored and finished with 23 hits, good for the third-most in franchise history.
Devon Travis and Ezequiel Carrera had four hits apiece and Kendrys Morales scored four runs as Toronto won for the sixth time in seven games.
"Those games are very rare at the big-league level," said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. "So enjoy it when you get them."
The Reds opened the scoring with a run in the first inning and Adam Duvall hit a solo shot in the sixth inning off Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman, who picked up his team-leading sixth win of the year.
But this game was essentially over by the midway point.
Tulowitzki's second homer of the season — and fourth grand slam of his career — put a charge in the Rogers Centre crowd of 29,844. Smoak turned it into a laugher with his 12th homer of the campaign.
"I got a good pitch to hit, put a good swing (on it) and kind of broke the game open," Tulowitzki said.
The final scoreline could have been even more inflated as the Blue Jays left 13 men on base. Toronto improved to 3-1 on its 10-game homestand.
"I'm not surprised by any means," Stroman said. "I know what this team is capable of. We've had the same mentality from the very beginning. There's been a lot of external opinions but they never affect our internal mentality.
"So we've been good from the beginning. We're just getting hot now."
As powerful as the Blue Jays' offence was, Cincinnati (24-26) didn't do itself any favours in the field.
Reds reliever Robert Stephenson was called for a balk. Third baseman Eugenio Suarez was called for obstruction. Shortstop Jose Peraza couldn't get the ball out of his glove on a routine grounder. Centre-fielder Arismendy Alcantara blew an attempted catch on the warning track.
At least the Reds can look forward to a clean slate for Tuesday night's rematch.
Stroman (6-2) allowed five hits and two earned runs while striking out five. Bonilla (0-3) issued five walks and allowed three hits and six earned runs over 2 1/3 innings.
Notes: The game took three hours six minutes to play. ... Martin now has four homers on the season. ... It was the first time the Reds had given up 23 hits in a game since allowing 25 against the Atlanta Braves on May 1, 1985. ... Toronto left-hander J.A. Happ (0-3, 4.50 earned-run average) is scheduled to make his return Tuesday night after a stint on the disabled list (elbow). The Reds will counter with right-hander Asher Wojciechowski. ... Travis extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a single in the third inning. ... Votto was presented with the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame's Tip O'Neill Award before the game.
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Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press