The Toronto right-hander should have a good chance to earn that elusive victory when he faces the Boston Red Sox at home Sunday, although facing the Red Sox’s Daisuke Matsuzaka(notes) may make it much more difficult.
Litsch tries to improve to 4-0 against Boston at Rogers Centre while Matsuzaka attempts to win his sixth straight decision over Blue Jays and third in a row in Toronto.
The Blue Jays (44-44) had dropped 12 of 15 before winning consecutive games during the opening series of the homestand against Minnesota. They lost 14-3 to the Red Sox on Friday before bouncing back with a 9-5 victory Saturday, ending a seven-game home losing streak to their AL East rivals.
Jose Bautista(notes) hit his third home run in four days - his major-league leading 24th - while Alex Gonzalez(notes) and Adam Lind(notes) also went deep in the team’s seventh straight multi-homer game, one shy of the team record set from June 17-25, 2000.
The Blue Jays have hit 20 of their major league-best 135 homers during that span. Matsuzaka (5-3, 4.71 ERA), though, has given up one in his past 10 outings.
He has also issued 12 walks in three winless starts since returning from the disabled list, some of which contributed to a rough outing Monday in Tampa. The right-hander allowed five runs over five innings, but avoided a second straight defeat in the 6-5 loss.
Matsuzaka has not lost to the Blue Jays since his first game at Rogers Centre on April 17, 2007, and posted a 0.64 ERA while winning his last two starts versus Toronto. The most recent was a 6-1 home victory May 11 in which he had a season-high nine strikeouts.
Matsuzaka has recorded a 2.70 ERA over his last three starts in Toronto, with his last one there coming Sept. 21, 2008.
Litsch has gone 4-1 with a 3.82 ERA in six career games versus the Red Sox, but 3-0 with a 1.53 ERA in three home starts against them. He has not faced Boston since Sept. 13, 2008.
Litsch (0-3, 7.30) will be taking on a team that has lost five of six, but he has struggled to recover from surgery that ended his season last June. He gave up five runs in 5 1-3 innings of a 7-6 loss to Minnesota on Tuesday, although he didn’t get the decision.
Manager Cito Gaston said he needs to see better results from Litsch, whose last win came Sept. 28, 2008, for him to stay in the rotation.
“I’m not going to let him work it out (until he struggles even more) then he’ll lose all the confidence he has,” Gaston told the team’s official website. “One good (start), one bad, you might let him work it out. But if he starts throwing back-to-back (bad outings) and gets beat up, that’s not good for him either.”
The Red Sox lead the season series 6-2.