Blue Jays vs. Angels series preview: Saturday showdown pits Manoah against Ohtani 

Arash Madani and Arden Zwelling discuss the Blue Jays' outstanding road trip ahead of a crucial series against the Angels, the lights-out level of play from the bullpen, and the significance of their series sweep in Boston.

The red-hot Toronto Blue Jays are coming home to face two weaker teams after an excellent 6-1 road trip against the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.

Fresh off their second sweep in a row at Fenway Park, the Blue Jays welcome the Los Angeles Angels to Rogers Centre for a three-game series.

The weekend set features one of the best pitching matchups of the season on Saturday, the same day the Blue Jays will hold a 30th anniversary celebration for their 1992 World Series win.

Here’s a look at the two teams:

Probable pitchers

Friday, 7:07 p.m. ET / 4:07 p.m. PT: Toronto RHP Mitch White (1-3, 3.61 ERA) vs. Los Angeles RHP Reid Detmers (4-4, 3.66 ERA)

Saturday, 3:07 p.m. ET / 12:07 p.m. PT: Toronto RHP Alek Manoah (12-6, 2.66 ERA) vs. Los Angeles RHP Shohei Ohtani 10-8, 2.83 ERA)

Sunday, 1:37 p.m. ET / 10:37 a.m. PT: Toronto RHP Ross Stripling (6-4, 2.84 ERA) vs. Los Angeles LHP Tucker Davidson (2-4, 6.23 ERA)

Latest on the Blue Jays

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The Blue Jays (68-55) are a season-high 13 games over .500 after continuing their dominance of the Red Sox this season — Toronto is now 13-3 versus its AL East rival.

The final two wins in the series both came in extra innings.

Thursday’s was a thriller with closer Jordan Romano escaping a bases-loaded jam with no out in the ninth to force a 10th inning.

Cavan Biggio then scored on a great slide to the plate on a grounder to short before Romano returned to lock it down.

The Blue Jays are second in the wild-card race, a half game behind the Tampa Bay Rays and a game ahead of the Seattle Mariners.

Latest on the Angels

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It has been a terrible season for the Angels (52-73), who have lost six in a row after getting swept in a four-game series by the Rays.

The Angels, who fired manager Joe Maddon earlier this year after the team lost 12 in a row, fell 8-3 in Thursday’s series finale.

Angels star Mike Trout had a scheduled day off while Ohtani went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.

It also was a dramatic week off the field for the Angels. Owner Arte Moreno announced he is considering selling the team.

Hot ticket

The Ohtani vs. Manoah matchup Saturday should be plenty of fun — the game is a sellout.

Ohtani, the reigning AL MVP because of his dual-threat pitching and hitting, came out of his last start after four innings with a stomach virus last weekend in Detroit.

Ohtani had a rough outing against the Blue Jays in May, giving up five runs on six hits over six innings.

Manoah, who was sensational in the first half of the season en route to an all-star appearance, hasn’t been quite the same in recent outings, but is still giving his team a chance to win.

Of course, Manoah made headlines in his last start when he hit Yankees slugger Aaron Judge with a pitch, causing tempers to flare. Afterward, he had memorable fighting words for New York pitcher Gerrit Cole.

Bullpen watch

The Blue Jays bullpen is almost certain to be short-handed Friday night.

Toronto used five relievers in each of its past two wins over Boston, including two innings from closer Jordan Romano on Thursday following one inning on Wednesday.

High-leverage guys Tim Mayza and Anthony Bass also pitched each of the past two nights.

It could lead to some interesting decisions for manager John Schneider — considering Friday’s starter, White, is more of a swing guy and hasn’t pitched into the sixth inning in any of his three starts for Toronto.

Trout’s back

Trout has now been back in the lineup for a week after missing a month with a back/rib cage injury.

The three-time AL MVP is 7-for-23 (.304) with two homers and three RBI in six games since his return.

Staying away

Angels relievers and former Blue Jays Ryan Tepera and Aaron Loup and outfielder Taylor Ward are on the restricted list (unvaccinated against COVID-19) and not able to cross the border to play this weekend.

Season series

The Blue Jays swept a four-game series in Los Angeles in June, part of the Angels’ losing streak before the firing of Maddon.

The final game was especially memorable with the Blue Jays scoring three in the seventh and two in the eighth to win 11-10. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. drove in five runs that afternoon.

Up next

The Chicago Cubs are in town for three games — and former Blue Jay Marcus Stroman appears in line to make his first appearance in Toronto as a visiting starter on Tuesday.

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