The Toronto Blue Jays have been nearly unbeatable at Rogers Centre for much of the last two months. They hope to continue that success Monday night, when they open a three-game series against the Oakland Athletics.
The Blue Jays (63-60), who are seven games behind Seattle in the AL wild card race, have won 18 of 24 at home since June 22 to improve to 39-24 in 2007. Toronto has won four of six during this nine-game homestand, including a 3-2 victory in 10 innings over Baltimore on Sunday.
Troy Glaus’ solo homer in the fifth tied the score at two, and Aaron Hill’s sacrifice fly scored Vernon Wells with the game winner. In the top of the inning, Toronto’s John McDonald threw out the Orioles’ J.R. House at first base in the 10th after making too wide a turn on a base hit.
“Today, things came together at the right time,” McDonald said.
Roy Halladay pitched nine innings, allowing two runs and six hits, to continue the strong starting pitching the Blue Jays have received lately. Starters have gone at least six innings in 11 straight games—seven at home. The starting staff is 7-3 with a 3.36 ERA in 12 home starts in August.
Surging Shaun Marcum (10-4, 3.31 ERA) will try to extend that streak. The right-hander has won five straight starts and has a 2.14 ERA over that stretch. He allowed one run and four hits over seven innings on Wednesday in a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.
“You can’t really give him enough credit for what he’s done,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “Every game he pitches it seems he takes you into the sixth, seventh inning and has given up next to nothing.”
Marcum has pitched at least six innings in his last seven starts. His 127 2-3 innings this season are the second most among the pitching staff, trailing only Halladay’s 169.
Marcum’s only start against the Athletics (61-64) came on July 28, 2006. He pitched 4 2-3 innings and allowed two runs and five hits, but did not receive a decision in the 4-3 win.
Oakland will counter with Joe Blanton (10-8, 3.94), who is looking to win his third straight decision.
Blanton pitched seven scoreless innings against the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday, giving up five hits while striking out five in the 3-2 win. He is 3-2 with a 3.43 ERA in six starts against the Blue Jays, and pitched a complete game against them on July 3, allowing four hits in the 3-1 victory.
Oakland, which lost two of three against Toronto at home in early July, avoided a three-game sweep by Kansas City with a 6-1 win on Sunday.
The win was the Athletics’ fifth in the last seven games, but Oakland is 10 games out in the wild card race.
Toronto is just 13-16 against Oakland at Rogers Centre since 2000, but the Blue Jays have won six of the last 10 matchups there.