Blue Jays-Angels preview
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Two struggling right-handers from two struggling teams will face off when the Toronto Blue Jays and the Los Angeles Angels continue their four-game series Friday night at Angel Stadium.
The Blue Jays' R.A. Dickey, who has lost five of his past seven decisions, will face the Angels' Jered Weaver, who had to win his last three decisions to get his record to .500.
Weaver is the only remaining healthy starter from the Angels' projected rotation, which injuries have decimated. As a result, Los Angeles (63-83) will have its first losing season since 2013 and could reach 90 losses for the first time in manager Mike Scioscia's 17-year tenure.
Toronto has won just four games this month yet remains in the thick of the race for a playoff spot. The Blue Jays (80-66) are two games behind the Boston Red Sox (82-64) in the American League East while sharing the top AL wild-card spot with the Baltimore Orioles.
A 7-2 win against the Angels on Thursday night also enabled Toronto to expand its lead over the Tigers and the Mariners in the wild-card race to two games. Detroit and Seattle are both 78-68.
Following their series in Anaheim, the Jays will meet the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field.
“The West Coast has never been friendly, really, for anybody,” Toronto manager John Gibbons told the Toronto Star before the series opener in Anaheim on Thursday. “It's going to be a big test for us, and Seattle has always been tough. This next road trip will say a lot. I would say it determines what happens to us.”
Dickey won the 2012 National League Cy Young Award with the New York Mets, when he amassed 20 victories and pitched in the All-Star Game. Since then, however, the knuckleballer has gone just 48-51 with a 4.08 earned-run average. This year, Dickey, 41, owns a 9-14 record and a 4.60 ERA.
One of his recent bright spots was a 7-2 win against the Angels at Rogers Centre on Aug. 23. He allowed two runs — both on Nick Buss' second-inning, two-run homer — in 6 2/3 innings.
“I felt good about handling the middle of their order, I didn't feel so good about handling the lower half of their order,” Dickey said.
“(Dickey) was fantastic,” Gibbons said. “After the two-run homer, he was in cruise control.”
Inconsistent results also have afflicted Weaver (11-11, 5.25 ERA). The 33-year-old needs one more win to reach 150 for his career, but one more loss would match his single-season high.
After going 0-4 in a six-start span, Weaver has been on the rise since winning in Toronto on Aug. 25, when he gave up two runs (one earned) in 5 2/3 innings.
In his most recent start, he limited the Rangers to two runs in 6 2/3 innings during a 3-2 win Sunday at Angel Stadium.
“The fastball command was good,” said Weaver, who has fought injuries and declining velocity in recent seasons. “Everything is starting to free up, and I'm getting a little stronger. It's happening a little later than I thought, but the body is responding well in between starts. I'm doing a lot of work in between starts with the trainers and a strength guy to try to get back on track. I'm feeling good.”