Phillies’ turnaround provides hope for Blue Jays
TORONTO — The Philadelphia Phillies are an example of how a team can turn things around from one season to the next.
That should provide some encouraging new to fans at the Rogers Centre who have watched the Toronto Blue Jays struggle this season and last after reaching the American League Championship Series in 2015-16.
The Phillies (69-58), who open a three-game interleague series against the Blue Jays (58-69) on Friday night, are still in contention in the National League East.
Right-hander Jake Arrieta (9-8, 3.25 ERA) will take the mound for the Phillies in the opener and he will oppose Blue Jays rookie left-hander Ryan Borucki (2-3, 4.27).
Arrieta has not faced the Blue Jays this season and is 4-2 with a 4.85 ERA in eight career games (seven starts) against them.
Borucki has never pitched against the Phillies.
Philadelphia stopped a four-game losing streak Thursday afternoon with a 2-0 victory over the Washington Nationals on a two-run homer by Odubel Herrera and superb pitching from Aaron Nola.
The Phillies already have surpassed their win total from last season when they won 66 games. This season, they won their 66th game on Aug. 15.
The Blue Jays, meanwhile, are in a rebuilding phase, or as general manager Ross Atkins puts it, transitioning. Whatever terminology is used, the Blue Jays have played poorly this season and can be thankful that the Baltimore Orioles are even worse.
The Blue Jays completed a three-game sweep of the Orioles with a 6-0 victory on Wednesday afternoon with left-hander Thomas Pannone losing a no-hitter in the seventh inning in his first major-league start. The Blue Jays are 12-1 this season against the Orioles and 10-0 against them at home.
This is the second meeting of the season between the Phillies and Blue Jays. Toronto won two of three games on May 25-27 in Philadelphia. One of the winning pitchers for the Blue Jays was J.A. Happ, who was traded to the New York Yankees last month.
The Phillies recalled catcher Andrew Knapp from Triple-A Lehigh Valley before their game Thursday and put first baseman Justin Bour (left oblique strain) and right-hander Edubray Ramos (right index finger) on the 10-day disabled list.
Phillies catcher Wilson Ramos (sore left wrist) said he hopes to return to action Friday. He missed the past three games after taking a pitch off a wrist while behind the plate and aggravated it swinging the bat Sunday. He had an MRI.
“So far, the results of the MRI are good,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said Wednesday. “We’ll monitor how he’s feeling and be prepared to read and react. As of right now, he’s good.”
“It’s a little sore, but I can play with it sore,” said Ramos, who was obtained in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays last month.
At the time of the trade, Ramos was on the DL with a strained hamstring. After being activated, he had seven hits in 17 at-bats (.412) in four games, including four doubles and a triple with four RBIs.
The Blue Jays should have their rookie infielder Lourdes Gurriel (sprained left ankle) back in the lineup this weekend, possibly Friday. He has been on the disabled list since July 30.
When Gurriel returns, he will be trying to prolong a streak of 11 straight games with at least two hits.
Blue Jays designated hitter Kendrys Morales also will take a streak into Friday. He has homered in a career-best four straight games, for a total of five.
Toronto expects to have right-hander Aaron Sanchez back in the starting rotation beginning Saturday. He injured his right middle index finger when it was caught in his falling suitcase.
“The bag started falling, it happened all in a span of 30 seconds,” he said. “I pulled my finger, I said ‘ow.’ My knuckle got super fat. I pitched that day (at Anaheim), it probably didn’t help. But it was the first time I was going to pitch in front of my family as a professional. And I wanted to see what I could do.”
Sanchez lasted one inning in the June 21 start against the Los Angeles Angels, allowing two runs, and has been on the disabled list since.