Weather conditions interrupted the Toronto Blue Jays’ current series, but the short break may not be enough to help them overcome their recent struggles.
The slumping Blue Jays face a difficult challenge in ending their three-game losing streak Monday, when they wrap up their four-game series against the Cleveland Indians on Monday in a traditional doubleheader.
Toronto (17-21) and Cleveland (18-18) were scheduled to play Sunday afternoon before persistent showers postponed the game. Monday’s first pitch is scheduled for 4:05 p.m. EDT, marking the first time a traditional doubleheader is being played at Progressive Field since Aug. 13, 1997, and the fourth overall since the park opened in 1994.
Monday’s forecast calls for light rain and temperature in the mid-50s.
The weather, though, will make little difference to Vernon Wells, who will be sidelined six to eight weeks with a broken left wrist suffered while making a diving catch on Friday. The Blue Jays placed the two-time All-Star center fielder on the 15-day disabled list on Saturday, two days after infielders David Eckstein (strained right hip flexor) and John McDonald (sprained right ankle) also went on the DL.
“We’ll try to play our best with the players we have,” manager John Gibbons said. “That’s all we can do.”
Wells was hitting .281 and leading Toronto with five homers and 24 RBIs, and losing him is the latest blow to a Blue Jays offense that is averaging only 2.8 runs over the last 23 games.
Toronto has scored only one run in losing the first two games of this series, falling 12-0 on Saturday and 6-1 on Friday. That sputtering offense may be in for more lean times against scheduled Indians starters Fausto Carmona (3-1, 2.95 ERA) and Cliff Lee (6-0, 0.81).
Carmona, though, has struggled with his control his last three starts, walking 13. He allowed three runs, six hits and issued five walks in five innings of Cleveland’s 5-3 loss to the New York Yankees on Tuesday, failing to receive a decision.
Lee, meanwhile, will try to become the first seven-game winner in the American League. He scattered six hits in seven innings of a 3-0 victory over the Yankees on Thursday, the third time in six starts he did not allow a run.
“Obviously I can’t expect to put up zeros every single time but it’s my job to put up as many as I can and get deep into the game and give the team a chance to win,” said Lee, who has given up just three runs over his last 30 innings and hasn’t walked a batter in his last 28.
Lee, though, is just 0-3 with a 6.94 ERA in five career starts versus Toronto.
In the first game, the Blue Jays hope to end their struggles behind A.J. Burnett (3-3, 5.19 ERA), who had his start moved to Monday.
The right-hander, who has alternated wins and losses his last four starts, allowed five runs and nine hits in six innings on Tuesday, striking out a season-high 10 in a 5-4 home defeat to Tampa Bay.
Burnett is 1-3 with an 8.46 ERA in four career starts against Cleveland, with all three losses coming on the road.
The Indians are 10-11 at Progressive Field in 2008, but have won nine straight at home and 14 of their last 15 over the Blue Jays.
Grady Sizemore helped extend that run Saturday with two homers and a career high-tying five RBIs. Victor Martinez drove in three and Asdrubal Cabrera two for Cleveland, which has won four of its last five overall.
In the second game, Toronto will start Shawn Marcum (4-2, 2.59), who fell one out shy of a shutout and complete game in a 6-2 victory over Tampa Bay on Wednesday night. The right-hander limited the Rays to four hits, striking out nine in his second straight win.
Marcum last won three straight starts during a five-game run from July 23-Aug. 15.
He could have trouble pursuing that mark as he is just 0-2 with a 6.48 ERA in five career appearances versus Cleveland.