Lately, it’s Saunders who’s provided misery to opposing hitters.
The Los Angeles Angels starter will try to win his third straight outing by keeping the Blue Jays at bay again in the opener of a three-game home series.
Saunders won his first four starts in 2006, his first six decisions in 2007 and 2008, and began last season 5-1. He also won his final seven decisions in 2009, but that didn’t carry over into this season for the left-hander as he dropped five of his first six starts while posting a 7.04 ERA.
The only win in that span was in Toronto, where he allowed a pair of unearned runs and five hits over eight innings. The Angels used his effort in that 6-3 victory as part of a three-game sweep over the Blue Jays, who lead the majors with 76 homers and 114 doubles.
Since giving up a season-high seven runs in Boston on May 3, Saunders (3-5, 4.42 ERA) has been solid for Los Angeles (21-25), winners in seven of 10 at home.
He’s 2-0 with a 0.81 ERA in his last three starts and followed a shutout of Oakland on May 14 by giving up one run and four hits over 7 2-3 innings Wednesday against the Chicago White Sox.
“It was good to see a follow-up,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “He was terrific tonight. He’s pitching much like he did at the end of last year.”
Saunders will face a Blue Jays team that lost two of three in Arizona despite scoring 23 runs and hitting 10 homers this weekend. Edwin Encarnacion(notes) had five of those home runs while batting .545 (6 for 11) over the three games.
His two-run shot in the fifth inning Sunday helped Toronto (26-20) salvage the series finale 12-4.
“I got hot in this series and I’ll just keep working,” said Encarnacion, who is 7 for 19 (.368) with six home runs and 11 RBIs since returning Tuesday from a sore right shoulder.
Despite leaving his glasses back home, the left-hander allowed two runs over 6 1-3 innings to help the Blue Jays edge Seattle 3-2 on Wednesday and earn his first victory since holding Cleveland to one hit May 3.
Cecil said he learned from being tagged for eight runs and eight hits in two innings in his previous start May 14 in Texas.
“After my last outing, I knew I had to be more aggressive, and I definitely was tonight,” Cecil told the Blue Jays’ official website.
While Cecil will face the Angels for the first time, Saunders is 2-3 with a 3.76 ERA in six lifetime starts against Toronto and snapped a three-game losing streak to the Blue Jays with his win last month.
Los Angeles, which hasn’t hosted Toronto since last May, is trying to win four straight over the Blue Jays since July 9-Sept. 7, 2004.