The Blue Jays (21-16) have won three consecutive series and seven of their last 10 games as they lurk in third place in the AL East behind the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. Toronto took the final two games of its series with Tampa Bay, including an 8-3 win Sunday as Josh Towers snapped a season-ending seven-game losing streak.
“I have a feeling of finally contributing,” said Towers, who allowed three runs and five hits without a walk in eight innings. “That feels good … I’m happy to finally help out.”
Toronto has not won three in a row since April 12-14, having lost on four different occasions to match its season-high winning streak.
One of the keys for the Blue Jays success has been right fielder Alex Rios, who had a first-inning homer Sunday and has hit safely in 14 of his last 15 games. After an early change in his batting stance, Rios is hitting .367 with eight homers and 27 RBIs, and 21 of his 44 hits have been for extra bases.
“I don’t put any expectations on myself,” Rios said. “Whatever happens is going to happen. I just wanted to be comfortable with what I had. I didn’t expect any of this, but it’s good. The results have been good.”
Ted Lilly (4-2, 3.24 ERA) looks to avenge a May 6 loss to the Angels, who reached him for two runs and five hits in seven innings of their 3-0 win over the Blue Jays. The left-hander, though, is 2-0 with a 1.84 ERA in two road starts this season, striking out 14 in 14 2-3 innings.
Lilly, who has won three of his last four starts, has allowed at least one homer in each of his last five starts, including two Thursday to the Oakland Athletics in 7 2-3 innings in Toronto’s 8-3 victory.
The Angels (16-22) have lost five of their last seven games after a 9-4 defeat Sunday to the Seattle Mariners that also dropped Los Angeles into last place in the AL West. Jeff Weaver was tagged for four homers in losing for the sixth time in seven decisions, and the Angels lost for the seventh time in their last eight home games.
“When you don’t get on a roll, you want to get everything fixed right away,” Weaver said. “Baseball isn’t that kind of game.”
Ervin Santana (3-1, 4.79) is trying to win consecutive starts for the first time since ending his 2005 rookie season with four straight victories. The right-hander posted a win Wednesday over the Chicago White Sox, limiting them to three runs and three hits while striking out seven in six innings of a 12-5 victory.
Santana’s lone loss this season came May 5 to the Blue Jays, who hit him for six runs and nine hits in just four innings of Toronto’s 13-3 rout. He is 0-1 with an 8.10 ERA in two lifetime starts versus the Blue Jays.
Angels right fielder Vlad Guerrero has hit safely in six consecutive games, going 8-for-25 (.320), but has only one homer in his last nine games.