Oakland (63-64) at Toronto (63-62)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Toronto, ON
Temp: 66° F
  • Game info: 12:37 pm EDT Wed Aug 22, 2007
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Esteban Loaiza’s presence likely won’t be enough to get the Oakland Athletics into the playoffs. He could, however, help them reach .500 for the first time in six weeks.

Loaiza makes his season debut Wednesday afternoon as the Athletics look to complete their first three-game sweep at Toronto in over six years.

After receiving strong pitching performances from Joe Blanton and Dan Haren in the first two games of this series, the Athletics (63-64) hope Loaiza can do the same.

The veteran right-hander opened this season on the disabled list with a bulging disc in his neck and injured his right knee while on a rehab assignment, requiring surgery on May 31. Loaiza, in the second year of a three-year, $21 million contract, was 11-9 with a 4.89 ERA in 26 starts for the A’s in 2006. He went 2-0 with a 2.93 ERA in four rehab starts for Triple-A Sacramento.

Oakland manager Bob Geren said Loaiza will not be on a pitch count because he has twice thrown more than 100 pitches in rehab starts.

“I’m just happy to be back with the team,” Loaiza told the Athletics’ official Web site.

Loaiza, who pitched for Toronto from 2000-02, is 5-4 with a 3.41 ERA in 11 career starts against his former team.

Frank Thomas, who hit a pair of solo homers on Tuesday, is 7-for-14 with one home run against the right-hander.

Haren matched his career high with his 14th win, and Dan Johnson had two hits and two RBIs, leading Oakland to a 6-4 victory Tuesday.

The A’s, winners of seven of nine, haven’t been at .500 since July 8, when they were 44-44. They are seeking their first three-game sweep at Toronto since May 8-10, 2001.

Thomas connected for the 507th and 508th homers of his career, giving him 22 RBIs in 19 games this month. Vernon Wells added a two-run homer - his first since July 24 - for the Blue Jays (63-62), who have lost four of six.

“There’s no question Haren is one of the best in the game,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “He was rolling, he was on but we got a couple of big ones there.”

Toronto’s bullpen gave up three runs Tuesday after entering with 18 2-3 consecutive scoreless innings since Aug. 13.

A.J. Burnett (7-6, 4.01) looks to win his third straight start since coming off the DL. The right-hander appears to be fully recovered from the sore right shoulder that sidelined him for 37 games since he’s 2-0 with a 1.96 ERA in two starts since returning. He limited Baltimore to two runs and three hits over 6 1-3 innings while walking three and striking out six Friday in a 5-2 victory.

Burnett said he’s been using his changeup more often.

“I have confidence in it,” Burnett said. “Other days, when I’m feeling really good throwing 98, I probably wouldn’t throw it as much. But it’s good to have that pitch when your curveball is not getting over.”

He beat the A’s in his only career appearance against them on Aug. 22, 2006, yielding three runs and nine hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 4-3 victory.

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Starting Pitchers

E. Loaiza CWS vs. A. Burnett Phi
2-4 Record 10-8
5.79 ERA 3.75
20 K 176
20 BB 66
1.50 WHIP 1.19

Scoreboard

Wednesday, Aug 22