Blue Jays-Indians Preview
The Toronto Blue Jays might be enduring a temporary power outage from their offense, but they’re still in position for a road sweep of the Cleveland Indians.
They’ll look to continue their timely hitting Sunday as they seek their ninth win in Cleveland in 12 tries.
Toronto (10-8) slugged .404 through its first 14 contests and was tied for fifth in the majors with 17 homers, but is slugging .286 over its last four games with one home run. Edwin Encarnacion is still without a homer this season after ranking third in the majors from 2012-13 with 78.
After being outscored 16-5 in two losses in Minnesota, the Blue Jays have since taken the first two in a three-game set with the Indians (7-10). The difference appears to be with runners in scoring position, as they’re 7 for 19 in such situations against Cleveland after previously batting .195 on the season.
Jose Reyes was activated from the disabled list and drove in a run in Saturday’s 5-0 victory. It was his first game since straining his hamstring on opening day.
"I’m really happy just to be back, be with my teammates, see my guys again," Reyes said. "I’m happy that I’m going to be on the field and play and do what I love to do, just play baseball."
Melky Cabrera was 2 for 5 with a double and a triple. He’s hit safely in 17 of 18 games this season and 14 of his last 15 versus Cleveland with an OPS of .938. Jose Bautista has reached base in all 18 games after singling and drawing a walk.
The Blue Jays’ bullpen was strong again behind Mark Buehrle’s seven-plus shutout innings, yielding no earned runs for the third time in four games. They may need to rely on their relievers Sunday if Brandon Morrow (1-1, 5.52 ERA) pitches like he did Tuesday.
The right-hander threw 98 pitches in a season-low 3 2-3 innings, giving up two runs and four hits in a 9-3 win at Minnesota. Morrow walked four batters after issuing a total of two in his first two starts.
He’s 0-2 in six career starts against the Indians despite a 3.86 ERA with 45 strikeouts in 37 1-3 innings. Morrow limited them to one run in six innings of a 3-2 loss in his only matchup last season.
Cleveland, looking to avoid a fourth straight loss, could use some clutch hitting of its own. The Indians are 0 for 14 in the series with runners in scoring position and just 6 for 43 (.140) over their last five games.
"Obviously we haven’t had the start we wanted as a group," said Nick Swisher, who is in a 2-for-18 slump and is 4 for 27 against Morrow with eight strikeouts. "Then again last year we started off the season 5-10, so not time to panic just yet."
Starter Carlos Carrasco (0-2, 7.84) could likely use the support after struggling through his first two starts. He yielded five runs over 4 2-3 innings his last time out in a 9-6 loss to the White Sox on April 11. The Blue Jays knocked him around for five runs and seven hits in just three innings in Cleveland’s 7-1 loss July 10, 2011, in his only start against them.
Cabrera is 4 for 8 off Carrasco with a double and a homer.
Carlos Santana is 5 for 10 off Morrow but 3 for 37 (.081) over his last 10 games after going hitless in four at-bats Saturday.