TORONTO (AP) — The most efficient player to take the mound for the New York Mets on Friday night was the guy who spent most of his night catching pitches, not throwing them.
J.P. Arencibia and Rajai Davis each hit two home runs, Yan Gomes hit his first career homer and the Toronto Blue Jays routed the Mets 14-5.
Trailing by nine runs, the Mets gave their weary bullpen a break by turning to catcher Rob Johnson to work the eighth inning. Johnson produced New York’s only three-up, three down inning of the night, striking out Eric Thames to end it.
“He went out there and threw it over,” manager Terry Collins said.
Todd Zeile was the previous Mets position player to take the mound, doing so July 26, 2004, at Montreal.
Johnson, who last pitched regularly in high school, said he’s thrown the odd bullpen and side session over the years to keep himself ready for an occasion like this.
With the game getting out of hand, Collins decided to move Johnson from out behind the plate as the two chatted during a mound visit.
“He came out to the mound when we made a pitching change, I think it was in the sixth,” Johnson said. “He said `We might have to have you pitch the eighth. Can you do that?’ I said `Yeah.”‘
Johnson, who said he threw a fastball, cutter and curve, shook off catcher Mike Nickeas at one point. He needed just four pitches to retire Arencibia and Ben Francisco on infield pop ups before fanning Thames on an 87 mph fastball, the fastest of his 10 pitches.
Arencibia’s three-run home run in the first off Jon Niese (2-2) brought the left-hander’s modest nine-inning scoreless streak to an end.
Ricky Romero (5-1) was the beneficiary of Toronto’s power surge, winning for the first time in three starts. The left-hander allowed one run and three hits in six innings. He walked four and struck out six.
Four relievers handled the last three innings for the Blue Jays.
Arencibia went 3 for 5 with a career-high six RBIs, adding a two-run single in the sixth, as Toronto won its third straight. Toronto’s catcher has homered in three straight games for the first time.
“I’m a guy that drives in runs,” Arencibia said. “To drive in six and get that cushion for your pitcher out there is big.”
“It was an outstanding offensive night tonight,” Toronto manager John Farrell said.
Scott Hairston hit a three-run homer for New York, which has lost four of five.
Daniel Murphy walked and scored on Johnson’s RBI groundout in the second but Toronto answered when Gomes, promoted from Triple-A Thursday, opened the bottom half with a homer to left-center.
The Blue Jays tacked on a fifth run when Kelly Johnson walked, stole second and scored on a two-out single by Jose Bautista.
Toronto chased Niese with a two-homer third. Arencibia led off with a shot to center, his seventh, giving him his first multihomer game this season and the fourth of his career. The light-hitting Davis piled on with a two-run drive that bounced off the top of the wall and into the left field bullpen.
Niese, who is winless in five starts, worked three innings and matched a career-worst by allowing eight runs. He also set a new low by surrendering three homers among his eight hits. Niese, who fell to 0-2 with a 9.53 ERA in four night starts, walked two and struck out six.
“Oh man, just a rough one,” Niese said. “It seemed like every pitch I threw that they hit, they just barreled it up and got it up and it just flew out.”
Davis widened Toronto’s lead with a no-doubt drive to left off Manny Acosta in the fifth, his first career multihomer game.
The Blue Jays weren’t done, adding four more in the sixth. Arencibia greeted reliever Ramon Ramirez with a two-run single, Thames singled home a run and Gomes capped it with a sacrifice fly.
“When you don’t pitch in a game like this, it gets ugly,” Collins said.
New York scored four in the eighth on Murphy’s RBI groundout and Hairston’s two-out homer, his third.
Mets third baseman David Wright, who came in leading the major leagues with a .411 batting average, reached on a bloop double in the first, flied out to the warning track in the third and bounced back to the mound in the sixth, dropping his average to .409.
Wright, who started despite flulike symptoms, was removed from the game in the bottom of the sixth, with Ronny Cedeno moving to third and Jordany Valdespin taking over at shortstop.
Mets manager Terry Collins said before the game that Wright would get the day off Saturday, and that he Wright might start at DH Sunday.
NOTES: New York’s Ike Davis, who is stuck in a 1 for 19 slump, was held out of the starting lineup. … Wright’s double in the first was his 1,300th career hit, tying him with Jose Reyes for second on New York’s all-time list. … Mets OF Jason Bay (fractured rib) ran and threw in the outfield before the game but is not expected to resume full batting practice until next week. … Davis had not homered since June 1, 2011 against Cleveland. … Mets LHP Robert Carson made his major league debut, pitching one scoreless inning. … New York minor league 2B Daniel Muno has been suspended 50 games by MLB after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)