Although there’s no debating the impact David Price has made during his short tenure in Toronto, the Blue Jays are getting plenty of contributions from their rotation holdovers as well.
R.A. Dickey tries to continue Toronto’s impressive pitching run and a strong one of his own as the Blue Jays visit Citizens Bank Park Tuesday to begin a two-game series with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Blue Jays starters have yielded three earned runs or fewer in a club-record 20 consecutive games, a reason why Toronto (65-54) has won 15 of 18 to currently own a playoff spot in the American League. Drew Hutchison extended the sequence by allowing a run and three hits through 6 2-3 innings in Sunday’s 3-1 decision over the Yankees, which avenged a pair of losses to New York that halted Toronto’s 11-game win streak.
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"You’ve seen what our offense is capable of all year, and when we pitch well it gives us a great chance to win," Hutchison, who was sent to Triple-A Buffalo on Monday with the Blue Jays able to use a four-man rotation until Aug. 29, told MLB’s official site. "We just need to continue to do that and give our offense a chance to go out there and do their thing."
Dickey (7-10, 3.96 ERA) has done his part to help vault Toronto into contention in the AL East. The knuckleballer is 4-0 with a 1.49 ERA in six post All-Star break starts, including an 8-2 home win over the Phillies on July 29 in which he permitted two unearned runs over eight innings.
The 40-year-old wasn’t quite as sharp in surrendering three runs through six innings in Wednesday’s 10-3 victory over Oakland.
Dickey is 1-7 in 11 road starts but has allowed two or fewer runs while pitching at least seven innings in three straight. Though the veteran has given up four homers in 16 innings while going 1-2 in three outings at Citizens Bank Park, he’s won two straight at home over Philadelphia (46-72), which ranks 29th in the majors in scoring (3.67 rpg) and generated just four runs in three straight weekend losses in Milwaukee.
After sweeping a three-game set from San Diego to begin their road trip, the Phillies dropped five of six to the Brewers and Arizona. They stranded 28 runners versus the Brewers, including nine in Sunday’s 6-1 loss.
"You go through peaks and valleys obviously during the season,” Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin said. ”This is one of those valleys right now. "It’ll be good to go home even though it’s two days, try and get us back on track."
Philadelphia was without Maikel Franco for a fourth straight game due to a bruised left wrist, while Mackanin rested Chase Utley Sunday. Utley, hitting .500 with a homer and five doubles in seven games since returning from an ankle injury, remains the subject of extensive trade rumors as he enters potentially his final home series as a Phillie.
Utley is 4 for 13 against Dickey and Freddie Galvis 3 for 10 with a home run, though Ryan Howard is 4 for 22 with no homers in the matchup.
The Phillies have swung the bats well for Aaron Nola (3-1, 4.25), producing 34 runs while winning the rookie’s past four starts. Such was the case Wednesday in Arizona, where Nola was reached for four runs in five innings of Philadelphia’s 7-6 triumph.
Nola’s lone previous interleague start came July 21 at home to Tampa Bay. The 22-year-old worked six innings in his MLB debut but came out on the short end of a 1-0 decision.
Toronto, which opens an eight-game road trip, has won 9 of 10 against the Phillies and six straight at Citizens Bank Park.