Rare birds: D-backs host interleague set with Jays
The Diamondbacks will play their final interleague series of the season against the Blue Jays beginning Monday, and pardon the D-backs if advance scout Mark Weidemaier and the coaching staff spent have done a little extra cramming.
The teams have played only three series, nine games, in the Diamondbacks’ first 15 seasons, most recently in 2010. That series at Chase Field was one for the souvenir chasers.
The D-backs won the series, two games to one, but the Blue Jays won the home run contest, hitting 10 to the D-backs’ three. The Jays had six solo homers in an 8-6 loss in the first game of the series, and Edwin Encarncion had five homers and eight RBIs in the three games. Aaron Hill also hit one for Toronto. Encarnacion has spent time DH-ing this season, but manager John Gibbons certainly will find time for him in the field this week.
Toronto (62-75) spent a lot of money in the offseason with the expectation of contending in the AL East, but it has not happened. The Blue Jays enter the series 19 1/2 games behind the division-leading Red Sox and 14 games behind the Rays in the wild-card chase, effectively eliminated.
Adam Eaton, who has hits in 26 at-bats from the No. 2 sot in the batting order in the previous six games on the homestand, is looking forward to the challenge of facing an unfamiliar team.
“It’s the comfort level,” Eaton said. “For me, especially, as you see a guy, you have that comfort level. You know how they are going to approach you and attack you. When a new team comes into town and I have never seen these guy before, it’s going to be kind of a feelingout period for a lot of the guys who haven’t seen them.
“It should be fun.”
Pitching matchups: Monday — RHP Todd Richmond (2-2, 4.30) vs. RHP Brandon McCarthy (3-8, 5.03). Tuesday — RHP Esmil Rogers (3-7, 5.03) vs. LHP Wade Miley (9-9, 3.) Wednesday — LHP Mark Buehrle (11-7, 3.92) vs. RHP Randall Delgado (4-5, 3.67).
Who’s hot for the Diamondbacks: Martin Prado, who led the National League in August with 43 hits and 30 RBIs, started September the same way, notching two more hits and an RBI on Sunday. … Eaton is 22 for 60 with eight RBIs and 12 runs in his last 14 games. … Hill has hit safely in 19 of his last 22 games. … Willie Bloomquist is 6 for 9 with two RBIs in his three starts since coming off the disabled list Wednesday. …
Who’s not hot for the Diamondbacks: Didi Gregorius has two hits in 11 at-bats in the first six games of the homestand. … Eric Chavez has one hit in his last 12 at-bats.
Who’s hot for the Blue Jays: Mark Buehrle has won seven of his last eight decisions, with six quality starts in that stretch. He has given up just four runs in his last 28 2/3 innings. … Rookie second baseman Ryan Goins had hits in his first nine major league games before the streak was broken Sunday, but he still has 12 hits in his last 34 at-bats. … Encarnacion has five hits, including a homer, in his last 13 at-bats. He is third in the majors with 34 homers.
Who’s not hot for the Blue Jays: Third baseman Brett Lawrie, whose season has been disrupted by injuries, has four hits in his last 22 at-bats, although he did hit safely in 24 of his 27 games in August. … Catcher J.P. Arencibia has two hits and no RBIs in his last 16 at-bats, and he committed his 10th error of the season Sunday while attempting to throw out a base stealer at second base.
Notes, quotes, odds and ends: The Diamondbacks have lost three of their last four games and seven of their last 11 as they try to stay in the race for the second NL wild-card spot. They are six games behind the Reds, five in the loss column, with 27 games remaining. The D-backs have 10 games remaining against teams with a winning record, seven against the Dodgers and three against the Nationals, who are only a half-game behind the D-backs in the wild-card standings. … Toronto’s $119 million payroll is the largest in team history, and much of that came over in an offsesaon trade with Miami that brought Buehrle ($11 million in salary this year), Jose Reyes ($10 million) and Josh Johnson ($13.75 million). Buehrle is the only one who has made much of an impact, though, because Johnson and Reyes have been bothered by injuries. … Power hitter Jose Bautista ran into a fence chasing a foul ball two weeks ago, has been on the disabled list since and could miss the rest of the season. … The Blue Jays are eighth in the majors in runs scored but 29th in ERA and 29th in quality starts. … Bloomquist is 19 for 41 with eight doubles, a triple and four RBIs against Buehrle, and he is 3 for 9 against Rogers. Hill is 3 for 7 with two doubles against Rogers. … Toronto outfielder Melky Cabrera, who was suspended for 50 games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy before signing a two-year, $16 million contract as a free agent this winter, is 4 for 9 with a double, two home runs and four RBIs against McCarthy. The homers came the first two times they faced each other.