The Angels represented the start of what was supposed to be an easy part of the schedule for the Blue Jays, but Toronto lost all three games in relatively ugly fashion.
A series win against the Cubs – highlighted by former Blue Jay Marcus Stroman’s first appearance at Rogers Centre as a visitor on Tuesday -- will go a long way toward relieving some angst before the calendar flips to September.
Here’s a look at the series.
Tuesday, 7:07 p.m. ET / 4:07 p.m. PT: Toronto RHP Kevin Gausman (9-9, 3.15 ERA) vs. Chicago RHP Marcus Stroman (3-6, 4.10 ERA)
Wednesday, 7:07 p.m. ET / 4:07 p.m. PT: Toronto RHP Mitch White (1-4, 4.23 ERA) vs. Chicago TBD
(All games on Sportsnet)
Latest on the Blue Jays
The Blue Jays (68-58) looked like they might actually score no runs in three games against the Angels before they at least hit the scoreboard in an 8-3 loss on Sunday.
Toronto was outscored 22-3 in a series against one of the worst teams in the American League.
A 12-0 loss with No. 5 starter Mitch White getting rocked (along with poor defence and at-bats) after the team’s late arrival from Boston on Friday was followed by a 2-0 setback in the Alek Manoah-Shohei Ohtani showdown on Saturday.
As a result, Toronto has slipped into the third wild-card spot, just 1.5 games ahead of the Baltimore Orioles.
A four-game series starting with a doubleheader on Labour Day in Baltimore is looking like it could be awfully important.
There also are concerns about the health of outfielder Teoscar Hernandez, who didn't run hard or slide while going from first to second on a play he could have been safe on Sunday. Hernandez has been dealing with a foot injury.
Latest on the Cubs
The Cubs (55-73) lost two out of three to the Milwaukee Brewers this weekend.
The series finale was a 9-7 setback in Milwaukee.
Steele would have likely started Wednesday, explaining why the Cubs have not named a starter for the finale yet.
Because Sampson did not pitch four consecutive innings in Sunday’s game, the Cubs can bring up a player to replace him.
MLB.com reports triple-A relievers Brendon Little and Jeremiah Estrada are expected to be the replacement players.
Return of the Stro show
A Gausman-Stroman confrontation marks the second marquee pitching matchup in a row for the Blue Jays in the middle game of the series following the Ohtani-Manoah duel.
Signed by the Cubs to a three-year, $71 million deal prior to the season, Stroman has been up and down this season.
A key member of the Blue Jays’ 2015 and ’16 playoff teams, Stroman was torched for five runs on 11 hits in five innings in his last start on Saturday against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Stroman has recorded just one win since May – though he missed a month with shoulder inflammation.
The Blue Jays are 7-5 against the National League this season, while the Cubs are 5-12 against the AL.
That’s more like it
The Cubs will post their first winning month if they do not get swept by the Blue Jays. They are 14-12 in August.
After starting the year 35-57, Chicago has gone 20-16.
After an off-day Thursday, the Blue Jays begin a 10-game road trip with three games against the Pittsburgh Pirates.