Neither the Detroit Tigers nor the Toronto Blue Jays are generating much offense heading into Friday night’s series opener.
While a trip to Toronto may not help Miguel Cabrera break out of his slump, a home series versus the Tigers may be just what Jose Bautista needs.
The AL Central-leading Tigers (62-50) opened a nine-game trip by dropping three of four to the New York Yankees. Detroit’s average of 4.6 runs ranks fourth in the majors, but it totaled six in the Bronx while batting .173 and striking out 35 times.
"Offensively we just didn’t do anything," Victor Martinez said after Thursday’s 1-0 loss.
Cabrera, who grounded into a double play as a pinch-hitter in the ninth after originally being scheduled to get Thursday off, finished the series 1 for 10.
He had similar struggles in Detroit’s first 2014 series with Toronto from June 3-5, going 1 for 11 as the Tigers were swept in three games. He did homer off R.A. Dickey (9-11, 4.03 ERA), but is still 2 for his last 11 against the knuckleballer.
His problems may continue in Toronto, where he is batting .143 with two home runs in 10 games since 2011. The batting average is easily his worst at any AL park in that span.
The Blue Jays (61-55) are coming off Thursday’s 2-1 loss to Baltimore, their fifth defeat in six games this month. Toronto, right behind Detroit in scoring at 4.5 runs per game, has plated eight in the losses.
Bautista homered in Wednesday’s win, but is batting .222 in the August defeats.
The slugger was 6 for 13 with three RBIs against Detroit two months ago, and could be poised for another big series. He is batting .459 with three homers, six doubles and has a 1.484 OPS in 12 career games versus the Tigers in Toronto, far and away his best average against any opponent at Rogers Centre since he was acquired by the Blue Jays.
However, he is 1 for 8 lifetime against Anibal Sanchez (8-5, 3.37).
Sanchez allowed two hits while striking out a season-high 12 and walking none over seven innings in Sunday’s 4-0 win over Colorado. He had a 6.27 ERA in his previous three starts.
"I had the life back in my fastball, and I just kept going to it," the right-hander said.
Sanchez also shut down the Blue Jays on June 3, allowing two hits while striking out five in seven scoreless innings of a 5-3 loss. He is 2-0 with a 1.31 ERA in his last three starts versus Toronto.
Melky Cabrera, whose status is uncertain after he was hit on the elbow by a pitch Thursday, is 10 for 21 lifetime against Sanchez.
Dickey permitted five runs and nine hits in seven-plus innings in Saturday’s 8-2 loss to Houston. Aside from a stellar outing against Boston on July 28, the righty has a 6.30 ERA in his other three starts since the All-Star break. He also has a 6.63 ERA in his last three in Toronto.
Dickey has enjoyed much better success against the Tigers, recording a 2.33 ERA in winning his last four starts against them. He allowed two runs in five-plus innings of an 8-2 win in Detroit on June 4.
He likely won’t have to face Torii Hunter, who is expected to miss a third straight game after being hit by a pitch on the left hand Tuesday.
Starting shortstop Eugenio Suarez, who made his major league debut versus Dickey, is expected to return from a knee injury that sidelined him the last three games.