After a successful series against one AL East contender, the Toronto Blue Jays are off to a good start against another.
The Blue Jays look to hand the second-place Tampa Bay Rays a season-high fourth straight loss Saturday afternoon at Rogers Centre.
Fourth in the division and 10 1/2 games behind the first-place Yankees, Toronto (57-52) took two of three at New York before winning 2-1 in Friday’s series opener against Tampa Bay.
Though Tampa Bay has won 10 of 14, it’s scored eight runs during the three-game skid with all but two coming in one inning of an 8-6 loss to Minnesota on Thursday.
“Two of our last three losses have been by 2-1 scores,” manager Joe Maddon said. “Obviously we need to do a bit more offensively.”
Tampa Bay will be without first baseman Carlos Pena(notes) for more than a week after he was placed on the disabled list with a foot injury Friday. Pena, who had not played since last Saturday, is hitting .212 but has a team-leading 23 home runs.
All-Star left fielder Carl Crawford(notes) is expected to be in the lineup Saturday after being rested in the opener. Crawford is 2 for 16 in his last four games and 7 for 31 against the Blue Jays this season.
The left-hander was recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas to take the place of Jesse Litsch(notes), who will have season-ending hip surgery. Mills is making his fourth career start and second this season after giving up two hits in seven innings of a 5-0 win over Baltimore on July 28.
“It’s great to come up here and prove to myself that I can pitch here and get outs here,” said Mills, who went 0-1 with a 14.09 ERA in two starts last season. “I know I can pitch here.”
Shields allowed four hits and struck out 11 in 7 1-3 innings of a 3-0 win over the Yankees on Sunday. He’s struck out 19 and posted a 2.66 ERA while winning his last three starts.
“To finally put it together feels pretty good,” said the right-hander, who won four straight starts April 17-May 4.
Making his first appearance versus Toronto this season, Shields is 6-4 with a 3.57 ERA in 13 starts against the Blue Jays.
Overbay, a .306 hitter with three home runs against Shields, is 12 for 31 with five RBIs versus the Rays in 2010.
Toronto leads the majors with 167 home runs but failed to homer for the first time in 14 home games Friday.