Closing in on their longest winning streak of the season, the Cleveland Indians also have a chance to sweep their first four-game series in more than a year.
The Indians look to accomplish both with a fifth consecutive victory Thursday in the finale of a home set against the struggling Toronto Blue Jays.
Matt LaPorta(notes) homered for the second time in as many days to help Cleveland (30-47) beat Toronto 3-1 on Wednesday. The Indians matched a season with four straight wins after enduring a season-high seven-game skid.
After being swept at home against the Blue Jays (40-39) in early May, the Indians are in position for their first four-game sweep since May 25-28, 2009, against Tampa Bay. Cleveland hasn’t swept a four-game set from Toronto since Aug 28-31, 1995.
“Big picture, I like what I see,” Thursday’s scheduled starter Justin Masterson(notes) told the Indians’ official website. “We’re maybe not as talented as some of the other teams, so we’ve got to do the little things.”
LaPorta has played a big part in the Indians’ success this week, going 4 for 9 in the series. He is 6 for 15 against the Blue Jays this season.
The right-hander allowed a run and struck out six in six innings of a 5-1 victory over Philadelphia on Saturday. Marcum is 2-0 with a 2.00 ERA in his last three starts.
He is 0-1 with a 4.37 ERA in four starts against the Indians, but has not faced them since 2008.
Pitching hasn’t been the entire problem of late for the Blue Jays, who look to avoid matching a season high with a fifth consecutive loss. Toronto has totaled eight runs and hit .205 during its skid.
The Blue Jays, who have dropped eight of 10 overall and 11 of 14 on the road, hope for a better July after going 9-17 in June.
“It’s got to be better than June. It couldn’t be any worse,” manager Cito Gaston said. “We just can’t score any runs.”
Gaston dropped struggling second baseman Aaron Hill(notes) to seventh in the order Wednesday. The All-Star had a hit, but is 5 for 36 in his last 10 games. He’s 1 for 16 in his last four versus the Indians.
Masterson (2-7, 5.21) hopes he can bounce back after allowing six runs in five innings of a 6-4 loss at Cincinnati on Saturday. The right-hander is 0-2 with a 7.00 ERA in three starts since winning back-to-back starts to open June.
“He’s not a finished product,” manager Manny Acta told the Indians’ official website. “He’s a guy who needs innings and needs to pitch to gain experience.”
Though Masterson is making his first start versus the Blue Jays, he is 1-0 with a 2.89 ERA in seven relief appearances against them.