The Cleveland Indians are trying to increase their slim lead in the AL Central. Facing a pitcher they’ve never beaten makes the task that much tougher.
The Indians will try to avoid matching their longest skid this season when they face Roy Halladay and the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night in the opener of a three-game weekend series at Rogers Centre.
AL Central-leading Cleveland (51-34) suffered its most lopsided loss of the season with a 12-3 loss to Detroit on Thursday. After dropping two of three in the series, the Indians’ division lead over the Tigers was reduced to one game.
The Indians, 14-8 since last losing three straight from June 10-12, now face Halladay (9-3, 4.27 ERA)—who has never lost to the Indians during his stellar 10-year career. Cleveland swept a home series with the Blue Jays from May 1-3, but didn’t face Halladay, who is 4-0 with a 3.33 ERA in nine games, eight starts, against the Indians.
At home, the 2003 AL Cy Young Award winner is 3-0 with a 3.38 ERA in five career starts versus them.
Halladay looks to help second-place Toronto (41-43) win its second straight while Halladay tries to rebound from his first loss since May 10. The right-hander allowed three runs and 10 hits in six innings of an 8-3 loss at Seattle on Saturday.
“His bad nights, for anyone else in the league is a good night. Roy is an amazing pitcher,” said Seattle’s Miguel Batista, a former teammate who outpitched Halladay.
Halladay last beat Cleveland in 2005 and did not earn a decision in Toronto’s 7-2 loss to the Indians on Sept. 5 in his most recent start against them.
On Thursday, Victor Martinez went 2-for-3 with a homer for the Indians. He’s batting .400 (16-for-40) during a 10-game hitting streak and went 6-for-11 with two doubles and four RBIs against Toronto in May.
Cliff Lee (5-4, 4.90) looks to help Cleveland bounce back after starters Jake Westbrook and C.C. Sabathia allowed a combined 12 runs in consecutive outings against Detroit. Lee allowed a run and four hits in eight innings of Cleveland’s 3-2 victory over Tampa Bay on Sunday.
“It was a real good effort by Cliff,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “I loved the way he bore down.”
The left-hander is 3-0 with a 2.77 ERA in his last four starts. After missing the beginning of the season with an abdominal injury, Lee struggled in his 2007 debut against the Blue Jays on May 3 by allowing five runs in six innings. He didn’t factor in Cleveland’s 6-5 win, and is 0-2 with a 6.05 ERA in four career starts against the Blue Jays.
Toronto routed Oakland 10-3 on Wednesday, wrapping up their longest road trip of the season with a 4-6 record. The Blue Jays are tied with the New York Yankees, but both teams trail Boston by double digits.
“Going 4-6 isn’t too bad for a West Coast trip,” said Toronto’s Matt Stairs, who went 2-for-4 with a homer and four RBIs against his former team.
The Blue Jays scored 22 runs in taking two of three from the Athletics. Vernon Wells also homered Wednesday and went 6-for-13 with three homers and three RBIs in the series.
It’s uncertain if Toronto’s Troy Glaus will be in the lineup for this game after injuring his left foot Wednesday. Glaus is 3-for-5 with a homer and a double against Lee.