Angels-Blue Jays Preview
Since being recalled from the minors, Toronto's Brett Cecil has been solid in two starts against the NL East's two worst teams.
He'll face a much bigger challenge trying to cool off the Los Angeles Angels.
Coming off their highest-scoring game of the season, the surging Angels look to move a season-best 10 games over .500 in Thursday night's opener against Cecil and the Blue Jays.
Los Angeles (42-33) arrives in Toronto for four games having won six of seven, plating 51 runs in those victories. In a two-game stop in Baltimore, the Angels pounded out a season-best 17 hits in a 7-3 win Tuesday followed by a 13-1 victory the next night.
"Look at how we've been hitting the ball over the last five or six days,'' manager Mike Scioscia said. "Right now you're starting to see a team that is coming into its own and beginning to play at a high level.''
Rookie sensation Mike Trout has been instrumental to the offensive outburst for the Angels, who have won 13 of 17 games overall and 13 of 14 on the road. The 20-year-old leadoff hitter is batting .425 with 12 runs during a nine-game hitting streak.
"All cylinders are clicking," said Torii Hunter, who was 5 for 10 with three RBIs and five runs against the Orioles.
Adding it all up, it appears the Angels could become the first team this season to frustrate Cecil (1-0, 2.45 ERA).
After allowing two solo homers over five innings in a 6-2 win over Philadelphia on June 17, Cecil gave up a run and five hits over six-plus in a 6-1 victory at Miami on Saturday.
"Just get the ball down," the left-hander told the Blue Jays' official website, "and once I have that good feeling of where the arm side is going to be, that's when I can start quickening things up."
Cecil hasn't looked nearly as comfortable against Los Angeles, going 0-2 with an 8.71 ERA in his last four games in the series.
The Angels, who split a four-game set with the Blue Jays (38-37) in early May, counter with Dan Haren (5-7, 4.24).
Haren has a 7.56 ERA in his last three starts after posting a 1.29 ERA in his previous three. He gave up five runs, nine hits and three walks over five innings Friday against the Dodgers, but was bailed out by his offense in an 8-5 win.
"Obviously, I think everyone knows I can throw the ball better than I have,'' the right-hander said. "But it was nice for the team to pick me up, and hopefully I can pick them up next time.''
Haren didn't get much help from his teammates against the Blue Jays on May 3. Toronto scored two unearned runs on a Trumbo error and the offense managed three hits in a 5-0 loss. The Blue Jays' other runs came on J.P Arencibia's three-run shot off Haren.
Haren was 1-0 with a 2.40 ERA in two starts at Rogers Centre after last season's All-Star break.
Encarnacion is still looking for his first homer in June at home, where he's hitting .214 with just one RBI in nine games. He went 0 for 14 against the Angels last month.