Astros-Blue Jays Preview

ANDY LEFKOWITZSTATS Writer

Bill Hall knows the kind of home run power the Toronto Blue Jays can flash. The rest of the Houston Astros hope they won’t see too much of it during their inaugural visit to Ontario.

Led by Jose Bautista, the surging Blue Jays will welcome the Astros to Rogers Centre for the first time Friday night when the teams kick off a weekend interleague series.

Toronto (22-21) showed off its long-ball prowess Thursday en route to its seventh win in eight games, 3-2 over Tampa Bay. J.P. Arencibia hit a tiebreaking two-run homer and Juan Rivera also went deep.

The Blue Jays have hit 24 of their 46 homers this season in Toronto. Hall, who played last season with AL East rival Boston, told the Astros’ official website what the club can expect.

“They pretty much try to hit for power, especially in Toronto,” he said. “The whole team tries to hit the ball deep and draw some walks now and then, but they try to hit the ball hard.”

That scouting report is bad news – Houston’s 48 homers surrendered this year are fourth-most in the majors.

Bautista leads the big leagues with 16 home runs hit this season and 70 since the start of last year, but may have a hard time padding those numbers this weekend.

Bautista, who played in the NL Central for Pittsburgh from 2004-08, has five homers in 33 career games versus Houston. He’s gone deep 14 times in 76 interleague contests.

He went 0 for 4 Thursday, dropping his average 12 points to .360.

The Astros (15-29) swept the Blue Jays in the clubs’ only previous series in June 2005. Houston outscored Toronto 13-5 over the three games and held a 31-15 advantage in hits.

To continue that winning streak, Aneury Rodriguez (0-2, 6.26 ERA) will try again to record his first victory in the major leagues following a pair of lackluster efforts for the NL-worst Astros.

After nine mediocre relief appearances last month, the right-hander shined in his first career start, allowing one run in five innings of Houston’s 3-2 loss to Cincinnati on May 4.

However, Rodriguez was roughed up by the Reds in his next game, and again by the Mets on Sunday. He didn’t give up a hit through the first four innings versus New York, but wound up yielding seven runs – five earned – and walking four in five-plus innings of Houston’s 7-4 defeat.

Rodriguez has never faced an AL opponent.

His winless drought is nothing compared to that of probable Blue Jays starter Jo-Jo Reyes (0-3, 4.75).

The left-hander failed to get a decision Saturday in Toronto’s 9-3, 11-inning win over Minnesota. It was marked the 26th straight start in which Reyes didn’t come away with a victory.

Since last winning for Atlanta on June 13, 2008, Reyes has gone 0-12 with a 5.98 ERA. Matt Keough holds the big league record with 28 consecutive winless starts for Oakland from Sept. 6, 1978-Aug. 8, 1979.

Reyes went 5 2-3 innings and allowed three runs and a season-worst 10 hits versus the Twins on Saturday. He’s 5-15 with a 6.40 ERA in 41 games, including 37 starts, against NL foes.

Reyes will try to end his dry spell against an Astros club that has lost a season high-tying five straight overall and six in a row on the road, including 4-2 at St. Louis on Thursday.

Houston dropped 12 of 15 to AL teams last season while Toronto has finished with a sub-.500 interleague record in each of the past three years.