Blue Jays-Athletics Preview
If the Oakland Athletics' latest victory was further indication that their offense is heating up, they just might run away with the AL West title.
Hoping to build on an impressive comeback win, the A's look for a fourth consecutive victory Monday night against the visiting Toronto Blue Jays.
Oakland (62-43) averaged 1.6 runs while splitting eight games from July 8-20, but since is putting up 5.0 per game while winning six of eight. The A's overcame an early five-run deficit to win 10-6 over the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday.
"That's just Oakland A's baseball," catcher Derek Norris told the Athletics' official website. "You know there's going to be a time when both (hitting and pitching) are going to click, and that's going to be scary for teams when they come in to face Oakland.
"That's what makes us a very good ballclub."
Yoenis Cespedes had three hits with four RBIs as Oakland increased its division lead to a season-high six games over struggling Texas. Before breaking out, Cespedes was 2 for 15 with five strikeouts in his previous five games since he won the All-Star Home Run Derby.
"I've been working a lot, every single day, to try to get the swing that I got (Sunday),'' said Cespedes, who still has not homered in 25 consecutive games.
Teammate Eric Sogard also had three hits, and is batting .407 (11 for 27) with six RBIs in his last eight contests after going hitless in his previous nine at-bats.
"We've had some guys struggling, and then someone else shows up ... and then someone else shows up," manager Bob Melvin said. "We still have some guys struggling, but we manage to either get just enough or keep adding on like (Sunday).''
Toronto (48-56) scored 24 runs while winning three of four from major league-worst Houston this weekend, with half coming in Friday's 12-6 victory. Colby Rasmus delivered the winning single in the bottom of the ninth for a 2-1 win Sunday.
The Blue Jays entered that set in the midst of a seven-game skid.
"We have to put as many wins together as we can," Rasmus told the Blue Jays' official website. "Stay positive and get on this (10-game) West Coast trip and go out there and try to win some ballgames."
Rasmus is batting .365 with 14 RBIs in 23 games this month, and .357 (5 for 14) in his last three versus Oakland.
Teammate Edwin Encarnacion went 9 for 12 with eight RBIs in the Houston series. He's hit .391 (9 for 23) with two homers and five RBIs in his last six games against the A's.
However, Encarnacion and Rasmus are a combined 1 for 6 with three strikeouts against scheduled Oakland starter A.J. Griffin (9-7, 3.84 ERA).
The right-hander allowed four hits over 7 2-3 scoreless innings while going 1-0 against the Blue Jays last season, but left after 32 pitches with a strained shoulder versus Toronto on August 4.
Griffin gave up three runs on two more homers in 6 1-3 innings of a 4-3 win at Houston on Wednesday. He ranks among the major league leaders with 23 home runs allowed, but only six have come at home.
He'll be opposed by Esmil Rogers (3-4, 3.74), who has not earned a decision in his last three starts. Rogers allowed two runs despite yielding 10 hits in seven innings of an 8-3, 10-inning loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday.
The right-hander pitched 3 1-3 scoreless innings of relief versus Oakland last year.