With Halladay still on their roster, the Blue Jays look to end a miserable July on a high note Friday night when they open a three-game road series against the Oakland Athletics.
After Toronto’s slow start to this month, general manager J.P. Ricciardi listened to offers for Halladay, but the 2003 AL Cy Young Award winner and last year’s runner-up for the honor wasn’t dealt before the trade deadline.
With Halladay’s fate settled, the Blue Jays (49-53) can focus on snapping out of their month-long slump. In the thick of the competitive AL East race at 41-34 on June 26, Toronto has since lost significant ground by dropping 19 of 27 games, including 15 of 23 in July.
The Blue Jays are 3-10 away from home this month. Six of those losses have come by one run, including a 3-2 defeat at Seattle on Wednesday.
While Halladay wasn’t traded, Toronto did move third baseman Scott Rolen(notes) to Cincinnati before the deadline, acquiring third baseman Edwin Encarnacion(notes) as part of a package of three players.
Rolen, 34 is batting .320 with eight homers and 43 RBIs, while Encarnacion is hitting .209 with five homers and 16 RBIs.
The Athletics (43-58) are one of three AL teams with a losing record at home, but they’ve won two of their last three series at the Coliseum to improve to 22-25 there.
Oakland returns home after splitting a four-game series at Boston. The A’s totaled 17 runs and 31 hits in consecutive wins before blowing a 4-1 lead Thursday en route to an 8-5 defeat.
“Coming in here and winning two out of four against that team is never a bad thing, obviously,” manager Bob Geren told the Athletics’ official Web site. “But when you’re up two games to one, and you’re up in the fourth game, you’d sure like to close it out.”
The A’s will try to rebound against Blue Jays starter Scott Richmond(notes) (6-5, 3.69 ERA), who was activated from the disabled list Tuesday. The right-hander hasn’t pitched since June 30 because of tendinitis in his pitching shoulder, but he’s not worried about being rusty.
“I’m the freshest out of the guys now,” Richmond told the Blue Jays’ official Web site. “I plan on trying to not being bumped around too much just because I’ve had that big rest, unlike some of the other guys who have been going every day since they were called up. I feel strong. I’m good to go.”
Richmond is 0-1 with a 5.27 ERA in two career starts against the A’s. He gave up a season high-tying five runs in a 5-3 loss to them May 8. Toronto took two of three games in Oakland in that series to improve to 4-2 versus the Athletics this season.
Since July 1, Cabrera has batted .373 with eight doubles, two homers and 16 RBIs in 110 at-bats.
Dallas Braden(notes) (7-9, 3.74) will take the mound for Oakland on Friday hoping to rebound from his worst start of the year. The left-hander was tagged for a season-high seven runs in 5 2-3 innings of a 7-5 road loss to the New York Yankees on Sunday.
Braden has issued 10 walks in his last two starts - both A’s losses - after failing to walk more than two in any of his previous 14 outings. He’s 0-2 with a 3.94 ERA in three career games - two starts - against the Blue Jays.