Blue Jays-Rangers Preview
The Toronto Blue Jays have dropped six straight starts by R.A. Dickey, although he mixed in a solid effort against the Texas Rangers in that span.
He'll try for his first victory since April 4 on Friday night in a three-game series opener that marks the Blue Jays' first visit to Arlington since last year's postseason.
Dickey (1-4, 5.18 ERA) seeks to avoid his first seven-start winless stretch since 2011 with the New York Mets. The former Rangers right-hander has lasted at least six innings in four straight outings.
His best effort of the year came May 2 when he gave up one run over 6 1/3 innings in a 2-1 home defeat to Texas. It was his first start versus the Rangers (20-15) since he made his postseason debut in Game 4 of last year's division series in Arlington, allowing one run in 4 2/3 innings in an 8-4 victory.
Texas took a 2-0 series lead before dropping both home games and the decisive fifth game in Canada. The Rangers also dropped three of four in Toronto from May 2-5 as Blue Jays slugger Edwin Encarnacion had two homers and eight RBIs.
Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus is 0 for 14 against Dickey, including two at-bats in the playoffs. That's the most he has faced someone without getting a hit.
Prince Fielder is 4 for 18 against him and is struggling this year with a .198 average. He had gone seven straight games without an extra-base hit before doubling twice Wednesday, including one that drove in two runs in a series-deciding 6-5 victory over the Chicago White Sox.
Texas battled back from down two runs, one day after rallying from five down in the eighth inning for a 13-11 victory.
“We had a goal to win that series and we came out and did it,” outfielder Ian Desmond said. “It's a good sign.”
Desmond is batting .379 with seven RBIs in a seven-game hit streak, although he is 6 for 28 off Dickey.
The Blue Jays (18-18) plan to give Russell Martin a second straight day off after Thursday's off day with backup catcher Josh Thole set to work again as Dickey's batterymate. Martin could use the rest after catching all 13 innings in Wednesday's 5-4 loss at San Francisco, not to mention he's in a 1-for-19 slump.
Josh Donaldson had four hits with a double that ended his nine-game drought without an extra-base hit as Toronto rallied from down three runs after seven innings only to fail to complete a three-game sweep.
“Your whole goal is to try to win series, on the road especially,” said Michael Saunders, who delivered a tying pinch-hit homer in the ninth. “All season long, you win the first two and you try to get greedy, get the third one. It just didn't go our way.”
The Rangers' Martin Perez (1-2, 3.51) has a 2.12 ERA in his last three outings, including five scoreless innings versus Toronto on May 3 in a 10-inning loss. The left-hander also was on the mound to start Game 3 of the division series and was charged with four runs over five-plus innings in a 5-1 defeat.
Perez has never faced the Blue Jays at home, where he is 4-0 with a 2.39 ERA in his last eight regular-season starts.