Facing the Royals for the final time this season, the Blue Jays look for back-to-back series wins on the road for the first time since early May on Wednesday when they take on reigning AL Cy Young winner Zack Greinke(notes).
Following Monday’s 5-4, 10-inning loss at Kauffman Stadium, Toronto (48-46) snapped a three-game slide in Kansas City with Tuesday’s 13-1 victory. Jose Bautista(notes) sparked the 16-hit attack with his major league-leading 26th homer and a career high-tying five RBIs.
“I hope he gets 40 (homers). I’m very happy for him,” said manager Cito Gaston, whose team goes for its first series win at Kauffman Stadium since a three-game sweep May 16-18, 2003. “He’s hit 36 home runs in little over a half of year. He has that kind of power.”
So do Bautista’s teammates. The Blue Jays, who are averaging 6.8 runs and batting .330 while winning four of five following the All-Star break, have homered in 13 consecutive games, which equals their longest such stretch since May 6-19, 2003. Toronto has hit the ball out of the park a major league-high 143 times.
Looking for consecutive series wins on the road for the first time since May 3-9 versus Cleveland and the Chicago White Sox, the Blue Jays could face a tough test in Greinke (5-9, 3.67 ERA), who hasn’t yielded a home run in his last four starts.
The Royals right-hander, who is 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA in two career home starts versus Toronto, is trying to rebound from his first loss in more than a month. Returning after missing a start with a sore shoulder, Greinke walked four and allowed five runs (two earned) in six innings of Friday’s 5-1 loss to Oakland, snapping his four-decision winning streak.
“His stuff was really good, he had his fastball up to 97 (mph), threw some good curveballs, threw some good sliders, but just had trouble with command all night long,” manager Ned Yost told the Royals’ official website.
In a 4-3, 10-inning victory in Toronto to April 21, Greinke did not earn a decision after striking out eight and throwing seven innings of two-run ball.
The Blue Jays will counter with Marc Rzepczynski(notes) (0-0, 5.40), who makes his second start and fourth appearance of the season. Since making his season debut July 7 against Minnesota, the left-hander has struck out three and given up one hit in one inning of relief.
Rzepczynski will face Kansas City (40-53) for the first time.
The Royals are batting a major league-best .281, but they are averaging just 3.3 runs while dropping seven of eight.
The Royals have won eight of 12 at home versus the Blue Jays.