Toronto Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin has found his hitting stroke, and that means trouble for the Texas Rangers, who host the Blue Jays on Saturday night for the second of a three-game series at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas.
Martin had three clutch hits that scored four runs for the Blue Jays (5-3) in their 8-5 win over Texas in the series opener on Friday. Toronto built an 8-0 lead by the sixth inning — with a lot of that work done by Martin — and held on as the Rangers surged back.
Marcus Estrada (1-0) earned the win on Friday with six innings of one-run, five-hit pitching that also featured seven strikeouts and just one base on balls. Roberto Osuna worked through two hits in the ninth inning to earn his second save of the year.
Matt Moore (0-2, 11.05 ERA) took the loss for the Rangers (3-6) by surrendering six runs (five of them earned) on five hits in 3 1/3 innings of work. He also had four walks and one strikeout in his 73-pitch stint.
Toronto will send right-hander Marcus Stroman (0-0, 7.20) to the mound on Saturday to oppose Rangers left-hander Mike Minor (0-1, 3.86).
Stroman suffered through some right shoulder inflammation in spring training that limited him to just three preseason appearances. He rushed at the end of camp to get ready for the start of the season but still had enough endurance to get through five innings on Sunday, when the Blue Jays beat New York 7-4.
“I’m really happy with how my arm has progressed,” said Stroman, who struck out eight and walked three in five innings against the Yankees. “I feel really strong. I think my stuff is right where it needs to be. I think I just made some bad pitches in certain counts.
“I’m not worried about it. Just focus a little bit more on my bullpen in between (starts) and look forward to getting out there for the next start.”
Texas is still looking for a comfort zone in this young season, but Andrus says that confidence is beginning to build.
“We just haven’t been able to get really comfortable yet, especially in our first series (against Houston),” Andrus said. “We were better in Oakland, and that’s what we are looking for as a team — relax a little bit and just continue to try to win series.”
Stroman is 1-1 against the Rangers in two career regular-season appearances and has allowed seven earned runs in 11 innings. He also started twice against Texas in the 2015 ALCS when he went 0-0 with a 3.46 ERA.
Minor will make his second start of the season on Saturday night and will be working on extended five days’ rest due to the addition of Martin Perez into the Texas rotation. Minor lost his first outing, giving up two runs and three hits in 4 2/3 innings in an eventual 8-2 loss to Houston on April 1.
Minor is 2-0 in four career games, including two starts, against the Blue Jays, with a 1.69 ERA. His most recent start versus the Blue Jays came on May 30, 2013, with Atlanta when he allowed three runs on six hits in seven innings.