Pittsburgh (25-37) at Toronto (36-30)

Cloudy Currently: Toronto, ON
Temp: 66° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Thu Jun 12, 2003
  • TV: FSPI, RSN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

If Mark Hendrickson doesn’t turn things around immediately, he could very well end up missing what may end up being a special summer for the Toronto Blue Jays.

The young left-hander will try to figure out his problems and help lead the Blue Jays to a three-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Blue Jays have won three straight games and four of their last five, including Wednesday’s 8-5 victory. Enter Hendrickson, who is pitching to a nearly 6.00 ERA.

Toronto manager Carlos Tosca strongly hinted Tuesday that the left-hander will be optioned to Triple-A Syracuse if he struggles in his start on Thursday.

Hendrickson started 1-4 in April with a 7.26 ERA, but appeared to turn things around by winning his first three starts in May. However, since May 21, the 6-foot-9 southpaw is 0-1 in four starts, allowing 15 earned runs over his last 19 innings.

He lasted only 2 2-3 innings last Thursday, allowing seven runs—three earned—and seven hits in a 13-5 loss to St. Louis.

“I don’t know how he is taking it, but we got to get better. That’s the bottom line,” Tosca said. “Hopefully, he’ll pitch good. I’m all for him pitching good.”

Pittsburgh has lost seven of eight, falling a season-high 12 games below .500. The Pirates have allowed 17 home runs in the last four games.

STANDINGS: Pirates - 5th place, 1 1/2 GB, NL Central. Blue Jays - 3rd place, 1 1/2 GB, AL East.

PIRATES PROBABLE STARTER: Jeff Suppan (5-5, 4.07 ERA). The right-hander has lost five of his last six decisions. He left his last start with a one-run lead, but failed to figure in the decision in the Pirates’ 5-4 win over Boston last Thursday. He allowed three runs and four hits over six innings. Suppan is 2-2 with a 4.89 ERA in seven career starts against the Blue Jays.

BLUE JAYS PROBABLE STARTER: Hendrickson (4-5, 5.96 ERA). Control hasn’t been Hendrickson’s problem, as the lefty has walked just nine over his last seven starts, a span of 37 innings.

OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Pirates - Aramis Ramirez, .303 avg.; Kenny Lofton, 42 runs and 12 SBs; Reggie Sanders, 8 HRs; Randall Simon, 37 RBIs. Blue Jays - Frank Catalanotto, .333 avg.; Carlos Delgado, 21 HRs, 72 RBIs and 58 runs; Orlando Hudson, 4 SBs.

INTERLEAGUE RECORDS: Pirates - 1-5; Blue Jays - 5-4.

SEASON SERIES: Blue Jays, 2-0.

STREAKS AND NOTES: Pirates - OF Lofton missed Wednesday’s game with a bruised left big toe. His status for Thursday is unknown. … 2B Pokey Reese, on the 60-day DL with a torn ligament in his left thumb, had a pin removed from his cast on Wednesday. Reese’s hand was placed in splint and he’ll be re-evaluated in four weeks. … 3B Ramirez extended his career-high hitting streak to 22 games with a single in Wednesday’s game. Blue Jays - Opponents are hitting .327 against LHP Hendrickson this season. … 1B Delgado leads the majors with 72 RBIs. … LHP Hendrickson had received the most run support on the Blue Jays’ staff with 7.83 per game.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Pirates - 16-16 on the road; Blue Jays - 16-14 at home.

INJURIES: Pirates - RHP Mike Lincoln (shoulder), 60-day DL; LHP Dave Williams (shoulder), 60-day DL; INF Pat Meares (hand), 60-day DL; INF Reese (thumb), 60-day DL. Blue Jays - INF Eric Hinske (hand), 15-day DL; OF Shannon Stewart (hamstring), 15-day DL; RHP Pete Walker (knee), 15-day DL; LHP Doug Creek (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Bob File (shoulder), 60-day DL.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Suppan SD vs. M. Hendrickson Bal
13-11 Record 9-9
4.19 ERA 5.51
110 K 76
51 BB 40
1.31 WHIP 1.56