Despite a struggling starting rotation, the Texas Rangers will look for their third straight victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday as the teams continue their four-game series at Rogers Centre.
Texas (10-13) entered this series having dropped three straight games and six of eight, due largely to poor starting pitching. The Rangers rotation has an unsightly 6.04 ERA and has produced only three seven-inning outings all season.
No Texas starter has pitched through the sixth inning in the last four games.
Kevin Millwood lasted 5 2-3 innings Saturday and yielded five runs, but was bailed out by his offense. Mark Teixeira went 3-for-4 with a homer, two doubles and three runs scored, and Hank Blalock drove in the winning run with a sacrifice fly for a 9-8, 10-inning victory.
“We kept fighting and we finally got it done,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “Those guys really fought hard today. I’m really pleased. You don’t need these kind of games but when you play them it’s certainly nice when you can win them.”
The loss was the fourth straight at home for the Blue Jays (11-12), who dropped Friday night’s series opener 5-3, and their seventh in 10 games overall. Jason Frasor, filling in for injured closer B.J. Ryan, allowed three runs in the ninth inning Saturday to blow his first save in three chances.
“It was a grind,” said Frasor, who walked Ian Kinsler to load the bases and then hit Frank Catalanotto with a pitch to score a run. “It came down to walks and hit batsmen and I really screwed myself with that.”
On the bright side for Toronto, third baseman Troy Glaus returned to the lineup after missing 14 games with a heel injury and went 1-for-2 with two walks. Glaus has 33 career home runs against the Rangers, his most versus any opponent.
Texas will try to win again Sunday despite sending struggling Brandon McCarthy (1-3, 9.00 ERA) to the hill for his first start in nine days. The 23-year-old right-hander, who had his last start skipped after a Tuesday rainout, pitched two innings of scoreless relief Wednesday at Cleveland.
The Rangers hope the layoff will help McCarthy bounce back from a pair of awful starts. On April 20 against Oakland, he lasted one inning and gave up six runs en route to a 16-4 defeat. McCarthy also gave up six runs in his previous start - a 14-6 loss to Seattle on April 15 in which he lasted only two innings.
“(He needs to) cut the intensity and the aggressiveness and stay within himself,” pitching coach Mark Connor told the team’s official Web site. “A guy like him, one or two miles per hour on his pitches isn’t going to make a big difference. He’s got to get his pitches where he needs them. He gets into a situation where he overthrows instead of executing pitches.”
McCarthy has made three career relief appearances against the Blue Jays, allowing one run and three hits over five innings.
Toronto will hand the ball to Tomo Ohka (1-2, 6.23), who is coming off his first win of the season and first in eight starts since last Aug. 24. Ohka allowed three runs and six hits in five innings against the Red Sox on Monday in a 7-3 win.
The right-hander is 2-0 with a 2.33 ERA in three career starts against Texas, but has not faced the Rangers since 2003.