The Toronto Blue Jays and Los Angeles Angels were both expected to contend this season and were considered among the favourites to win the World Series in many sports books in Las Vegas prior to the season.
However, both teams have been major disappointments and have been relegated into playing the spoiler role as the season winds down.
After dropping their seventh straight game near the end of August, Toronto (67-76) has played very well. They avoided a series sweep against the Astros in Houston by rallying in the top of the ninth inning for a 2-1 win, Toronto has gone on to win four straight series and has 10 wins in their past 13 contests.
Unfortunately for Jays’ fans the hot streak has come too late in what has become another lost season for the Blue Jays.
“When everybody go home they’re going to think about how everybody did in September,” said Esmil Rogers to the Toronto Star after throwing 7.2 scoreless innings as the Blue Jays completed the three-game sweep of the Minnesota Twins with a 2-0 victory.
Adam Lind appears to have regained the form he showed in May and June when where he combined to hit .348 with 11 homers and 30 RBI.
Lind smacked two three-run shots Saturday in Toronto’s 11-2 rout of the Twins.
His six runs batted in were the most since he set a career high with 8 against Texas in August of 2009.
”He’s got one of the prettiest swings you can find in baseball,” said manager John Gibbons to the Canadian Press. ”When he gets hot, he gets hot. He’s starting to do that now.”
The Jays will need Lind’s bat to stay hot as first baseman Edwin Encarnacion sat out of the series finale Sunday with a sore left wrist. With Monday’s off-day, Encarnacion could return to the lineup with two days of rest.
Toronto will send Mark Buehrle (11-7, 3.88 ERA) to the mound Tuesday.
He has been brilliant as of late where he’s gone 6-0 with an earned run average a shade over two over his last 8 starts.
After struggling in the early in the season Buehrle is feeling a lot more confident.
“Personally, I feel like I’m back to where I’ve been throughout my career. I just wish we were in a better spot than we are,” Buehrle told the Canadian Press.
In 20 career starts and 21 games against the Angels, the soft-throwing lefty is just 2-7 with 4.57 ERA.
Erick Aybar (4 for 13), Josh Hamilton (4 for 12 with a homer), Howie Kendrick (7 for 20 with a homer), Mike Trout (1 for 1 with a homer), and Mark Trumbo (3 for 9 with two homers) could make Buehrle’s evening a short one.
The Angels (67-76) have also played better of late and enter the series winners of 12 of their past 17.
Like the Jays the Angels have not gotten the type of season they had hoped from some of their key players, while the injury bug has also bitten L.A hard.
Staff ace Jeff Weaver, slugger Albert Pujols, starters Tommy Hanson and Jason Vargas, and second baseman Howie Kendrick, among others, have all spent significant time on the disabled list.
In Pujols’ case he’s out for the year with Plantar fasciitis.
However, injuries have created an opportunity for some of Los Angeles’ younger players to shine.
Kole Calhoun in particular has been impressive since joining the Angels near the end of July and has responded well when inserted in the lineup. In 39 games the native of Arizona has batted .287 with six homers and 21 runs batted in.
Jerome Williams (6-10, 4.60) will take the hill for the Angels and will look to build on his previous start where he held the Tampa Bay Rays to just two runs over 6.1 innings of work.
Prior to defeating the Rays, Williams had gone 0-8 with an ERA over 6 through 13 starts and 15 games overall. His previous win came June 12th in a 9-5 win over the Baltimore Orioles.
The right-hander allowed two runs with seven strikeouts in 6 1-3 innings of a 6-2 win over Tampa Bay on Thursday. He had been 0-8 with a 6.15 ERA over his 15 previous games – 13 starts – dating to a victory at Baltimore on June 12.
“I’m just going out here and doing my job, trying to do my best,” Williams told the Canadian Press. “As long as at the end of the day, end of the season, I can look myself in the mirror and say, ‘I did OK,’ that’s fine.”
Williams sports a 1-0 record with a 1.38 ERA in two career starts against the Jays.