The Toronto Blue Jays and Los Angeles Angels have been two of the most disappointing teams in baseball, though the Blue Jays have been playing better of late.
That certainly hasn’t been the case when they’ve sent Josh Johnson to the mound.
Johnson looks to put his disastrous July behind him and lead the Blue Jays to their sixth win in eight games Thursday night when they try to deal the reeling Angels a seventh straight loss.
Jose Bautista hit a go-ahead double in the top of the 10th inning Wednesday as AL East-worst Toronto (50-57) took two of three at AL West-leading Oakland with a 5-2 victory.
“I don’t think anybody really expected us to make a move in here,” starter R.A. Dickey said. “We have the team in here, at least the nucleus in here, that’s going to get it done one way or another.”
Los Angeles (48-58), meanwhile, is heading in the other direction after being the victim of a walk-off home run for the third straight game in Wednesday’s 2-1 loss at Texas.
The Angels hope to avoid their first seven-game losing streak since April 30 - May 6, 2010, as they open this four-game set against Johnson (1-7, 6.08 ERA).
The right-hander will try to snap his career-worst five-start losing streak. He posted a 7.71 ERA in July, the second-highest for any pitcher to have made at least five starts.
Johnson matched a season high by giving up seven runs and seven hits - three homers - over 5 2-3 innings in an 8-6 loss to Houston on Saturday.
“He’s scuffling, that’s an understatement,” manager John Gibbons said. “You feel for the guy. And he’s never struggled a whole lot in his career. He’s trying to settle in, he’s trying to contribute, and it hasn’t gone well for him.”
Johnson, who has never faced the Angels, is 0-4 with a 7.66 ERA in five road starts this season.
He certainly figures to have his hands full with Mike Trout, who has three home runs, three doubles and five RBIs in his last six games against the Blue Jays. Josh Hamilton homered for the Angels’ only run Wednesday and is 5 for 11 with seven RBIs in his last three contests.
Los Angeles starter Garrett Richards (2-4, 4.33) made the most of his second chance in the rotation by allowing three hits over five scoreless innings Saturday and exiting with the lead in a 3-1 loss at Oakland.
The right-hander, who replaced 13-game loser Joe Blanton, went 1-2 with a 5.54 ERA in four April starts.
Richards’ lone start against the Blue Jays was much worse than that. He walked four and allowed a career-high 10 runs - five earned - over 4 1-3 innings in an 11-2 loss at Toronto on June 30, 2012.
Colby Rasmus went 1 for 5 in that contest and is hitting .131 in 17 career games against the Angels. Rasmus, however, is 11 for 26 in his last six games overall.
Teammate Melky Cabrera could return after being limited to pinch-hitting duty Wednesday because of sore legs. Cabrera said he hasn’t been told by Major League Baseball whether he will face a suspension for his ties to the Florida clinic Biogenesis accused of distributing performance-enhancing drugs.
“Nothing’s been told to me,” Cabrera said. “I served my suspension last year, but MLB has never told me that it’s OK now. I’m seeing it in the press, but I don’t know.”
The teams split a pair of four-game series last season.