Toronto Blue Jays rookie third baseman Brett Lawrie is thrilled about playing in front of the hometown fans for the first time.
Given his struggles in Toronto, fellow British Columbia native Rich Harden probably isn’t as excited about heading north of the border with the Oakland Athletics.
The Blue Jays open a three-game series Tuesday night against an A’s team trying to match a season high with its third straight road win.
BLUE JAYS AUDIO:
Entire Lawrie pre-game scrum Tuesday
Acquired from Milwaukee in the offseason for Shaun Marcum, Lawrie made his major league debut Friday and was 5 for 11 during a three-game set in Baltimore. He went 2 for 4 with his first homer in Sunday’s 7-2 victory.
“Now I know I can stick and I can play with these guys,” the former first-round pick said. “I knew I could before, but it’s just a question of me getting the opportunity.”
Now, the 17th Canadian in Blue Jays history is set to make his Rogers Centre debut as Toronto (58-56) opens a six-game homestand. The Blue Jays, who took two of three from the visiting A’s (51-63) from April 5-7, are 10-4 in their last 14 home games.
“Obviously back in Canada it’s going to be pretty cool,” Lawrie said after getting called up from Triple-A Las Vegas. “I’ve got to do my best to represent my country and myself and the Toronto Blue Jays.”
It could make for an exciting matchup if Lawrie faces Harden (2-2, 4.63 ERA) in his first home at-bat, but with the young third baseman hitting ninth, that might not take place if the A’s right-hander doesn’t have better stuff than his previous outings in Toronto.
Harden is 0-2 with a 13.50 ERA in three starts visiting the Blue Jays. In his last start at Rogers Centre on May 14, 2010, he didn’t receive a decision after walking six and surrendering six runs in 2 2-3 innings of a 16-10 loss for Texas.
He is 0-3 with a 5.74 ERA in eight starts versus Toronto.
MORE BLUE JAYS NEWS: Alvarez to start Wednesday vs. A’s
Harden has surrendered at least one home run in each of his six starts this season, and that could be a problem with the Blue Jays ranked fourth in the AL with 70 homers at home.
Major league home run leader Jose Bautista, who increased his total to 33 with two on the just-completed trip, gets his first look at the A’s after missing the April series due to the birth of his first daughter.
Bautista is a .151 hitter with one homer and two RBIs in 14 games versus the A’s.
Blue Jays left-hander Brett Cecil (4-4, 4.35) would appreciate more production than that as he makes his eighth start since a two-month stint at Triple-A.
Cecil, 3-2 with a 3.28 ERA since returning, will try to win his fourth straight decision after giving up three runs over six innings in Thursday’s 7-6, 12-inning loss to Tampa Bay.
He is 2-0 with a 2.40 ERA in two starts against Oakland, both coming during his 2009 rookie season.
Cecil should be careful against Hideki Matsui, who is 5 for 8 with two homers and a double off him. Matsui is batting .483 (29 for 60) during a 15-game hitting streak after hitting a two-run shot in Sunday’s 5-4, 10-inning road win over the Rays.
The A’s, who dropped 30 of 37 on the road before taking the last two in Tampa, have lost 11 of 14 at Toronto.