Rangers-Blue Jays Preview
The Toronto Blue Jays haven't exactly been racking up runs lately. That's something Marco Estrada has dealt with all season.
Estrada will try to help the Blue Jays put the brakes on a four-game home losing streak Tuesday night against the Texas Rangers.
It's hard to believe Toronto (12-15) would ever struggle to score with its deep and power-laden lineup, but it's been limited to 16 runs and a .162 average while losing four of six. The Blue Jays have totaled seven runs – five in one game – during four straight losses at hitter-friendly Rogers Centre.
Michael Saunders' RBI single accounted for their offense in Monday's series-opening 2-1 loss to the Rangers in a rematch of last season's AL division series. Edwin Encarnacion went 0 for 2 with two walks and is hitless in his last 17 at-bats, while fellow slugger Jose Bautista is 2 for 20 with nine strikeouts in his last six games.
Toronto, which hasn't dropped five in a row at home since Sept. 1-13, 2013, is batting .195 with runners in scoring position during a 4-8 overall stretch.
''In these close games we're just not executing good enough to win,'' manager John Gibbons said.
Estrada (1-2, 2.92 ERA) has been a victim of poor support all season, receiving two runs in two home starts while his 2.19 run support average would be the third lowest in the AL if he had enough innings to qualify.
The right-hander has pitched well enough to earn more than one win, allowing three runs or fewer in three of his four starts. His control, however, has become an issue with eight walks over 11 2/3 innings in his last two.
Estrada held the Chicago White Sox to one hit over six innings Wednesday and ended up yielding three runs and two more hits before leaving with two outs in the seventh of a 4-0 loss.
He's 2-1 with a 1.47 ERA in three starts against the Rangers, giving up one run over 6 1/3 innings in a 5-1 victory in Game 3 of the ALDS.
Mitch Moreland has had success in this matchup, going 3 for 8 with a home run.
Texas (15-11) opened a seven-game road trip with its fifth win in six tries behind a terrific performance from Nomar Mazara, the AL rookie of the month for April who turned 21 last week. He hit a tiebreaking home run in the eighth inning, and preserved the lead in the bottom half by throwing out Saunders at the plate to end the inning.
''Mazara just continues to impress all of us,'' manager Jeff Banister said.
Fellow rookie Brett Nicholas also homered for the Rangers, who ended a four-game skid away from home with eight total runs in that span.
Martin Perez (1-2, 4.20) comes off his fourth quality start in five outings, limiting the New York Yankees to two runs through six innings in a 3-2 victory Wednesday. The Rangers had lost each of the first four games started by the left-hander.
''He made pitches when he needed to,'' catcher Bryan Holaday said. ''He was able to use that sinker down and away. … When we pitched off that, we were able to use his secondary stuff and get some swings and misses.''
Perez made his first start against the Blue Jays in Game 3 of the ALDS opposite Estrada, allowing four runs over five-plus innings to take the loss.
Josh Donaldson is 7 for 16 with a homer and four doubles against Perez, while Justin Smoak is 4 for 11 with a pair of doubles.