Texas (48-60) at Toronto (53-54)

Cloudy Currently: Toronto, ON
Temp: 72° F
  • Game info: 7:07 pm EDT Fri Aug 3, 2007
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As bad as their offense was on their road trip, the Toronto Blue Jays must be happy to return home. Having Frank Thomas back in the lineup might help, too.

Thomas and the Blue Jays hope to continue their recent dominance at Rogers Centre in support of ace Roy Halladay as they kick off a three-game set with the Texas Rangers on Friday.

Thomas was 2-for-20 with no homers on the road swing as Toronto went 2-4, getting held to 15 runs and batting .229 while losing series at Chicago and Tampa Bay. The trip came after the Blue Jays (53-54) won a season-high five straight - all at home - as they outscored Seattle and Minnesota 35-5.

While Toronto has won 10 of 12 at Rogers Centre to improve to 31-20 at home, the team is 22-34 outside of Canada. The Blue Jays have shut out the opposition in five of their last 10 home games, something they’ve done on the road only three times all season.

“I don’t see the guys caring any less when we’re on the road,” Blue Jays catcher Gregg Zaun told the team’s official Web site. “I don’t see guys any less intense. We don’t just all of a sudden go back to the dome and say, ‘OK, we’re at home guys. Let’s get serious.’

“It’s just, for whatever reason, we’ve been unable to get the job done and it’s probably the biggest reason why we’re not better off in the standings.”

To give the 39-year-old Thomas a break, Toronto manager John Gibbons sat his regular designated hitter for the final two games of the road trip. It’s the first time all season that’s happened when the DH was being used. Thomas flied out as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning of Wednesday’s 6-2 loss at Tampa Bay.

“Frank is fine,” Gibbons said.

He might feel real good being back in Toronto and facing Cleveland starter Kevin Millwood. Thomas is batting .368 (14-for-38) with four homers and 12 RBIs in his last 11 home games, and he’s 10-for-18 (.556) with two home runs against Millwood.

“Yesterday, I wanted to take off, because my timing’s been off,” Thomas said before Wednesday’s game. “That’s basically it. It’s all right to take a couple off sometimes.”

The Jays’ lack of run production on the road cost Halladay (11-5, 4.04 ERA) a win Saturday, as he pitched his fourth complete game of the season but lost 2-0 to the White Sox. He is 1-1 in his last three starts despite allowing only three runs and striking out 16 over 24 innings.

Halladay is 7-1 with a 3.27 ERA in 10 home starts, and unbeaten in six outings in Toronto since losing to Boston on May 10.

He went the distance in a 6-1 home win over the Rangers on April 30, but five days later in an 11-4 loss at Texas, gave up nine runs and 12 hits in 5 1-3 innings. Halladay is 5-5 with a 5.85 ERA in 16 appearances against Texas (48-60).

Rangers shortstop Michael Young has gone 12-for-32 (.375) against Halladay and enters this matchup as one of baseball’s hottest hitters, batting .448 (26-for-58) in his last 14 games.

Millwood (7-9, 5.95), meanwhile, looks to bounce back from one of his worst starts of the season. He was pulled in the third inning Saturday after allowing six runs and nine hits, and Texas lost 6-5 at Kansas City.

It was the third straight start Millwood has surrendered at least four runs, and his third loss in a row away from home. He’s 2-6 in 11 road starts.

Millwood pitched poorly in his only outing versus Toronto this year, giving up five runs and eight hits in 5 2-3 innings of a 9-8, 10-inning victory April 28. The right-hander is 1-3 with a 6.42 ERA in six career starts against the Blue Jays.

The Rangers (48-60) missed a chance to pull off a three-game sweep at Cleveland with a 5-0 loss on Thursday. They fell to 2-4 on a nine-game road trip.

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Starting Pitchers

K. Millwood Sea vs. R. Halladay Tor
10-14 Record 16-7
5.16 ERA 3.71
123 K 139
67 BB 48
1.62 WHIP 1.24


Friday, Aug 3