Blue Jays-Indians Preview

The Cleveland Indians are finding it difficult to break free of their worst start in 12 years while scuffling on the mound.

That’s a trend the Indians hope to reverse behind Trevor Bauer, who has been their most consistent starter so far.

After moving past his recent bout with food poisoning, Bauer will try provide the hosts with a rare quality start as they try to avoid their seventh loss in nine games Sunday against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Giving the ball to ace Corey Kluber didn’t help Cleveland (8-15) on Saturday, when the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner allowed five runs over five innings in a 11-4 loss that has the Indians needing a win to split this series.

Cleveland starters have a 7.26 ERA with only one quality start during a 2-6 stretch that has left the club with its worst record through 23 games since opening 7-16 en route to a 94-loss season in 2003.

Now Bauer (2-0, 1.80 ERA) will try to turn things around while dropping Toronto (12-13) to 3-7 on its 10-game trip.

He allowed a total of two runs with 26 strikeouts over in his first three starts – all Cleveland victories. Still battling the effects of an illness Tuesday, Bauer did not factor in an 11-5 home loss to Kansas City after giving up three runs over six innings.

The right-hander, who has never faced the Blue Jays, has pitched at least six innings in each of his four starts.

"I think he’s getting comfortable out there," reliever Scott Atchison told MLB’s official website. "He’s got a lot of confidence."

Toronto’s Russell Martin raised his average 29 points to .214 on Saturday by going 3 for 5 with a home run and a double in leading the Blue Jays’ 14-hit attack. Jose Bautista has four doubles in this series after going 2 for 5 with four RBIs.

Kevin Pillar also has been a bright spot, going 11 for 25 with six extra-base hits and six RBIs in the last six games.

Drew Hutchison will try to help Toronto’s overworked bullpen with a deep outing, though he’s only worked into the sixth inning twice in five starts. He issued five walks and gave up six runs over four innings in Tuesday’s 11-8 win at Boston.

"You expect to go seven, eight, nine (innings) every time you take the ball," he said. "So what’s gone on the other four turns through before I get the ball doesn’t really have an effect. You’re trying to go deep every single night."

Hutchison (2-0, 6.67), however, has surrendered 13 runs and 16 hits over just 8 1-3 innings in his last two road starts. The right-hander is 2-7 with a 7.51 ERA away from Rogers Centre in 13 outings dating to last June.

In his only career start against the Indians last April, he allowed two runs and fanned nine over 5 1-3 innings but did not factor in a 3-2 road win. Carlos Santana hit a two-run homer off him, but he’s 3 for 20 in his last six games entering this meeting.

Michael Bourn’s status is uncertain after he was scratched Saturday because of a cervical strain. The speedy outfielder appeared to be injured Friday when he slid headfirst into the plate.