Blue Jays-Angels Preview

The Toronto Blue Jays and Los Angeles Angels have been two of
the most disappointing teams in baseball, though the Blue Jays have
been playing better of late.

That certainly hasn’t been the case when they’ve sent Josh
Johnson to the mound.

Johnson looks to put his disastrous July behind him and lead the
Blue Jays to their sixth win in eight games Thursday night when
they try to deal the reeling Angels a seventh straight loss.

Jose Bautista hit a go-ahead double in the top of the 10th
inning Wednesday as AL East-worst Toronto (50-57) took two of three
at AL West-leading Oakland with a 5-2 victory.

“I don’t think anybody really expected us to make a move in
here,” starter R.A. Dickey said. “We have the team in here, at
least the nucleus in here, that’s going to get it done one way or
another.”

Los Angeles (48-58), meanwhile, is heading in the other
direction after being the victim of a walk-off home run for the
third straight game in Wednesday’s 2-1 loss at Texas.

The Angels hope to avoid their first seven-game losing streak
since April 30 – May 6, 2010, as they open this four-game set
against Johnson (1-7, 6.08 ERA).

The right-hander will try to snap his career-worst five-start
losing streak. He posted a 7.71 ERA in July, the second-highest for
any pitcher to have made at least five starts.

Johnson matched a season high by giving up seven runs and seven
hits – three homers – over 5 2-3 innings in an 8-6 loss to Houston
on Saturday.

“He’s scuffling, that’s an understatement,” manager John
Gibbons said. “You feel for the guy. And he’s never struggled a
whole lot in his career. He’s trying to settle in, he’s trying to
contribute, and it hasn’t gone well for him.”

Johnson, who has never faced the Angels, is 0-4 with a 7.66 ERA
in five road starts this season.

He certainly figures to have his hands full with Mike Trout, who
has three home runs, three doubles and five RBIs in his last six
games against the Blue Jays. Josh Hamilton homered for the Angels’
only run Wednesday and is 5 for 11 with seven RBIs in his last
three contests.

Los Angeles starter Garrett Richards (2-4, 4.33) made the most
of his second chance in the rotation by allowing three hits over
five scoreless innings Saturday and exiting with the lead in a 3-1
loss at Oakland.

The right-hander, who replaced 13-game loser Joe Blanton, went
1-2 with a 5.54 ERA in four April starts.

Richards’ lone start against the Blue Jays was much worse than
that. He walked four and allowed a career-high 10 runs – five
earned – over 4 1-3 innings in an 11-2 loss at Toronto on June 30,
2012.

Colby Rasmus went 1 for 5 in that contest and is hitting .131 in
17 career games against the Angels. Rasmus, however, is 11 for 26
in his last six games overall.

Teammate Melky Cabrera could return after being limited to
pinch-hitting duty Wednesday because of sore legs. Cabrera said he
hasn’t been told by Major League Baseball whether he will face a
suspension for his ties to the Florida clinic Biogenesis accused of
distributing performance-enhancing drugs.

“Nothing’s been told to me,” Cabrera said. “I served my
suspension last year, but MLB has never told me that it’s OK now.
I’m seeing it in the press, but I don’t know.”

The teams split a pair of four-game series last season.