Blue Jays-Phillies Preview

Simply giving props to Mark Buehrle for having longevity in the major leagues underestimates just how consistently well he has pitched over the last 15 years.

That’s especially true now with the 36-year-old quietly having one of the finest seasons of his career.

Buehrle looks to help guide the Toronto Blue Jays to a fifth straight road victory when he takes the mound against the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday night.

The last time Buehrle (13-5, 3.31 ERA) allowed more than three earned runs was May 29, when his ERA stood at 4.97 after beating Minnesota. He’s gone 7-1 with a 2.16 ERA in 13 starts since, walking just 10 in 91 2-3 innings.

Buehrle has pitched at least seven innings 11 times in that stretch, including each of his last three. He’s 45 innings short of joining Hall of Famers Warren Spahn, Don Sutton and Gaylord Perry as the only others since 1901 to toss at least 200 in 15 straight seasons.

The left-hander’s four complete games are two more than he had in his previous four seasons combined and one shy of his career high set in 2002 with the Chicago White Sox.

Buehrle’s 1.16 WHIP would be his lowest since a career-best 1.07 in 2001, and he hasn’t finished with a better ERA than his current mark since 2005, when it was a career-best 3.12.

”He’s a magician out there and always has been,” infielder Ryan Goins said after Buehrle beat Oakland 4-2 on Thursday.

The Phillies likely thought similarly when Buehrle faced them last season. He allowed three hits over seven innings of a 10-0 victory May 7, 2014, improving to 3-0 with a 1.55 ERA in his last four starts against Philadelphia dating back to his time with Miami in 2012.

Buehrle is holding opponents to a .218 average in three starts during Toronto’s 16-3 stretch that began July 29 with a win over the Phillies (46-73). The wild card-leading Blue Jays (66-54) remained one game behind the New York Yankees for the AL East lead with Tuesday’s 8-5 victory over Philadelphia to begin this two-game series.

Josh Donaldson hit his 32nd and 33rd homers while driving in four runs, giving him a baseball-best 91 RBIs.

”I’m in a position in the lineup where I need to come through, and fortunately I’ve been able to do that,” Donaldson said. ”Every time I come up I expect to not only have a good at-bat, but to help my team win.”

Donaldson went 0 for 2 with a walk July 28 against Adam Morgan (3-4, 4.11), who will be on the hill again in this contest. The rookie left-hander won that outing 3-2, settling down over his next five innings after allowing a leadoff homer to Devon Travis in the bottom of the first.

Morgan again had to regain his composure Friday after a rough start in a 3-1 loss to Milwaukee. He retired the last 11 batters he faced while going six innings, giving up a run in the second and two in the third.

"Everything felt great – shoulder, body, everything," Morgan said. "I’m just looking forward to the next one."

Morgan’s defeat began Philadelphia’s four-game losing streak. Chase Utley, who has been the subject of trade rumors after clearing waivers, had two hits Tuesday and is batting .484 during an eight-game hitting streak since coming off the disabled list Aug. 7.

Utley, though, is 1 for 11 with five strikeouts in his career against Buehrle.