The Toronto Blue Jays were one of the best teams in the majors at home last season. Now they’ll begin trying to duplicate that success against one of the worst road squads from a year ago.
The Blue Jays take the field for their home opener against the Kansas City Royals on Monday as the squads begin a three-game series.
Toronto (3-2) was 50-31 at Rogers Centre in 2006, tying for the second-best home record in the majors. It was also the Blue Jays’ best home mark since going 51-30 in 1998.
Toronto has won nine of its last 11 home games against the Royals (2-4), outscoring them 75-39 during that span. The Blue Jays won the 2006 series 4-3 with victories in four of the last five meetings.
Kansas City is opening its road schedule, having gone 28-53 last season for the second-worst mark in the AL.
Toronto just concluded a 3-2 season-opening road trip and is excited to be back at Rogers Centre to open a 10-game homestand.
“There’s always that little adrenaline rush that you get,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons told the team’s official Web site. “The fans are cheering for you, not against you, and that always helps, and puts pressure on the other team a little bit.”
Toronto left fielder Reed Johnson sure put the pressure on Tampa Bay on Sunday, hitting a three-run homer to lift his team to a 6-3 victory and a series win over the Devil Rays. Johnson has a hit in each of his last four games, going 7-for-20 in that span with six RBIs.
He will try to continue his streak versus the Royals, against whom he has hit .365 in 74 career at-bats—one of his best averages versus any team.
While the Blue Jays lineup has 54 hits through five games, their starting rotation has struggled with a 6.75 ERA.
Toronto starter A.J. Burnett will try to bounce back from his shortest start since June 30, 2004, as he takes the mound on Monday. The right-hander gave up six runs, five hits and four walks in two-plus innings in a 10-9 defeat to Detroit on Wednesday, leaving after the Tigers’ first six batters reached in the third.
“It’s embarrassing,” said Burnett after the loss. “This is the big leagues. It’s unacceptable.”
Burnett is 0-1 with a 6.23 ERA in two career starts versus the Royals.
He will square off against Odalis Perez, who is 2-1 with a 3.26 ERA in three career starts against Toronto. The left-hander allowed five hits and four runs through 5 1-3 innings of a 7-1 loss to Boston on Wednesday.
That defeat began a stretch of four losses in five games for the Royals, scoring only 12 runs during that span. David Riske gave up a three-run homer in the top of the ninth Sunday as Kansas City fell 3-2 to the Detroit Tigers, dropping its second straight series.
The Royals led the majors with 31 blown saves last season, but their bullpen may not see as much action this year as their starting rotation has posted a 2.93 ERA.
“It’s been great,” Royals right fielder Mark Teahen told the team’s official Web site. “Our starters have been great so far. Hopefully they can continue to do that, because every time they go six, seven innings and they give us the opportunity to win, that’s great.”
Teahen was 2-for-3 with two RBIs on Sunday and is 5-for-15 this season.
Toronto third baseman Troy Glaus left Saturday’s game with a sore left heel, but might play Monday.