After a disappointing 3-4 homestand, the Toronto Blue Jays hit the road for a pair of series this week.
First up is a three-game set with the inconsistent Chicago White Sox.
Here’s a look at the series.
Monday, 8:10 p.m. ET / 5:10 p.m. PT (Sportsnet ONE): Toronto RHP Jose Berrios (5-2, 4.65 ERA) vs. Chicago RHP Lance Lynn (0-0 6.23 ERA)
Tuesday, 8:10 p.m. ET / 5:10 p.m. PT (Sportsnet): Toronto RHP Kevin Gausman (5-6, 3.21 ERA) vs. Chicago RHP Dylan Cease (5-3, 2.91 ERA)
Wednesday, 2:10 p.m. ET / 11:10 a.m. PT (Sportsnet): Toronto RHP Ross Stripling (3-2, 3.28 ERA) vs. Chicago RHP Lucas Giolito (4-3, 4.78 ERA)
LATEST ON THE BLUE JAYS
The Blue Jays (38-28) snapped a three-game losing streak with a wild 10-9 win over the New York Yankees on Sunday at Rogers Centre.
The Blue Jays were desperate for a win after three ugly losses in a row (one against the Baltimore Orioles and two against the Yankees) – and it showed in the utilization of their shaky bullpen.
With one out in the eighth and two men on against Tim Mayza, manager Charlie Montoyo turned to Jordan Romano to get the final five outs. The closer got out of the jam in the eighth and stranded two more runners in the ninth for the win.
A grand slam by Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and a three-run shot by Teoscar Hernandez allowed the Blue Jays to erase a five-run deficit.
While it was a dramatic and much-needed win, it doesn’t erase the fact the team has plenty of pitching concerns – both with the rotation and the bullpen.
The Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox are hot on the Blue Jays’ heels in the race for second in the AL East and the Yankees are a whopping 11 games in front.
LATEST ON THE WHITE SOX
The middling nature of the White Sox (31-33) was summed up in the scores of their games against the Houston Astros this weekend – a 13-3 Friday loss and a 4-3 Sunday setback sandwiched an impressive 7-0 win over Justin Verlander on Saturday.
There is good news on the injury front with manager Tony La Russa saying shortstop Tim Anderson will be activated from the injured list on Monday. He has been out since May 29 with a groin injury – just before Chicago was swept in a three-game series versus the Blue Jays in Toronto.
However, third baseman Yoan Moncada hasn’t played the past two games because of tightness in his left hamstring. La Russa says he’ll be re-evaluated on Monday.
The White Sox also are missing closer Liam Hendriks (forearm), who hopes to return July 1.
Despite the series loss against Houston, the White Sox went 4-2 on their road trip after sweeping the Detroit Tigers.
BACKING HIS MANAGER
La Russa has faced plenty of criticism this year with fans chanting “Fire Tony” at a game earlier this month.
The manager was roasted for his intentional walk of Trea Turner of the Los Angeles Dodgers with a count of 1-2 and a runner on second in order to face Max Muncy, who proceeded to hit a three-run homer.
However, first baseman Jose Abreu doesn’t think La Russa deserves the blame for a season that has been below expectations for the reigning AL Central champs.
“It’s easy to blame the manager when things aren’t going right, but at the end of the day, it’s on us,” the 2020 AL MVP said over the weekend. “We are the ones who are performing on the field. The responsibility has to be on us. It’s easy to say whatever you want to say, or the critics will say whatever about the manager.”
CAN BERRIOS SAVE THE BULLPEN?
In Berrios, the Blue Jays appear to have the right guy on the mound for the opener.
The rotation has been trending in the wrong direction, but Berrios has turned things around recently.
The right-hander has gone at least seven innings in each of his last three starts, allowing just six total runs while striking out 26 and walking three.
With the Blue Jays bullpen struggling and overused the past few days, a lengthy start by Berrios would be a huge lift.
GAUSMAN, STRIPLING LOOK TO BOUNCE BACK
Gausman and Stripling both didn’t last long in their most recent starts, but they have good memories of facing the White Sox this year.
Gausman’s most recent win was part of the sweep against the White Sox as he gave up three runs in five innings on May 31.
Stripling delivered 2.2 innings of shutout relief a day later to pick up the win, taking over for Hyun Jin Ryu. That also happened to be his most recent relief appearance as Ryu was shut down (and eventually ruled out for the season) days later, pushing Stripling into the rotation.
The Blue Jays resume interleague action this weekend in Milwaukee against the Brewers before returning to Toronto for a key homestand against Boston and Tampa Bay.