Angels-Blue Jays Preview
Garrett Richards could soon find himself out of the Los Angeles Angels' rotation.
The Toronto Blue Jays can't afford to have Henderson Alvarez out.
Richards will try to help the Angels avoid their first two-game road skid in more than a month Saturday when they continue their series against Toronto.
Called up May 29 to replace injured ace Jered Weaver, Richards (2-0, 1.63 ERA) has been far more than a stop-gap, allowing one run or fewer in three of four starts, with the Angels (43-34) winning each of those contests.
However, the rookie right-hander hasn't locked up a spot with the club, given that Jerome Williams is progressing - he's scheduled to start for Triple-A Salt Lake on Sunday - after being placed on the disabled list June 20 with shortness of breath.
"It's not a bad position to be in when you have that kind of depth from a starting staff," manager Mike Scioscia told the Angels' official website.
The Blue Jays (39-38) have lost a large portion of their starting rotation over the last two-plus weeks, with Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison being placed on the disabled list.
It appeared that Alvarez would join them after leaving in the sixth inning of Monday's 9-6 victory at Boston with right elbow soreness, but an MRI showed just mild inflammation.
"There's really not a whole lot we can do about (pitchers getting injured)," manager John Farrell, whose team has surrendered 44 runs in the last six games, told the Blue Jays' official website. "As we said before in that four-day stretch when we lost three guys in the rotation, this is another challenge that we'll face. It will bring out opportunity for others."
Alvarez will get his second look at the Angels in 2012 after throwing a six-hitter in a 4-0 road victory May 4 for his first career shutout.
Repeating that effort could be a tall task given how the Angels are swinging the bats. Despite having its four-game winning streak snapped with Friday's 7-5 defeat, Los Angeles is batting .354 with 7.3 runs per game while winning seven of nine.
The Angels, winners of 14 of 16 on the road, haven't dropped two in a row away from Anaheim since a three-game skid May 19-21.
Angels rookie center fielder Mike Trout will try to extend his 11-game hitting streak. He's batting .400 (20 for 50) during that span.
First baseman Albert Pujols is hitting .422 (27 for 64) with six homers and 17 RBIs in Los Angeles' last 16 road games.
Trout, Pujols and Mark Trumbo, the team leader with 19 homers, are a combined 0 for 14 with five strikeouts off Alvarez.
Adam Lind provided the power for Toronto on Friday with his eighth career mulithomer game, but Jose Bautista is the biggest long ball threat in the Blue Jays' lineup with a major league-best 26 homers.
Bautista needs one homer to become the first player since Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki in September 2010 to hit 15 in one month.
Edwin Encarnacion is the only Blue Jay with a home run off Richards - a solo shot.
The right-hander will make his first start versus Toronto after going 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA in two relief appearances visiting the Blue Jays in September.