After salvaging the finale of a series against the major leagues’ worst team, the Blue Jays look to continue their hitting success against the Reds in the opener of a three-game interleague set Tuesday night.
Toronto (38-33) is coming off a 4-2 road trip, but dropped the first two games of its series with Washington before winning the finale 9-4 on Sunday. The Blue Jays had scored a combined four runs in their two losses against the lowly Nationals.
In six games all-time against Cincinnati (34-34), though, Toronto is batting .338 and averaging 8.0 runs. The Blue Jays won two of three games at home against the Reds last June 24-26, totaling 26 runs.
Overbay was Toronto’s star at the plate Sunday, driving in five runs during a 3-for-5 day that included a towering solo homer. The veteran first baseman entered the game mired in a 2-for-23 slump.
“When he stays aggressive, he’s that kind of hitter,” Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston told the team’s official Web site.
Toronto could use another big game from its lineup with untested rookie Brad Mills(notes) (0-0, 9.82 ERA) set to take the mound. He lasted just 3 2-3 innings in his major league debut, giving up four runs, six hits and walking four in Toronto’s 8-7 win over Philadelphia on Thursday.
Despite posting a 1-8 record and 4.48 ERA in 13 starts at Triple-A Las Vegas, the left-hander was called up Wednesday to replace injured Casey Janssen(notes) in the rotation and became the fourth Blue Jays starter this season to make his major league debut.
Toronto’s taxed bullpen may not get much relief. Blue Jays relievers have had to pitch at least four innings in six of the team’s last nine games, posting a 4.30 ERA during that stretch.
Toronto will now have to contend with Reds slugger Joey Votto(notes), who had been on the disabled list since May 30 with stress-related issues but was activated Tuesday. The first baseman, who hit .357 with eight homers and 33 RBIs in 38 games before going on the DL, grew up in Toronto and is eager to help slumping Cincinnati.
The Reds - 8-13 since Votto went on the disabled list - have been held to two runs or fewer seven times in their last 17 games, losing 10. They went hitless in five at-bats with runners in scoring position during a 4-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Sunday to complete a 3-3 homestand.
Cincinnati has gotten little help over the last four games from its pitching staff, which has a 5.75 ERA over that span.
The right-hander hit a three-run homer and pitched six effective innings to earn a win in Cincinnati’s 4-3 victory over Atlanta last Wednesday night. He gave up two runs and six hits.
This will be Owings’ first appearance against the Blue Jays.