Blue Jays-Angels Preview


Woeful offensive production dropped the Toronto Blue Jays off their perch atop the AL East, and now Edwin Encarnacion is out.

Facing Jered Weaver isn't likely to make them feel any better.

The scuffling Blue Jays look to avoid a season-high fifth straight loss Monday night when they open this three-game series against Weaver and the surging Los Angeles Angels.

Toronto (47-43) hit .180 and went 0 for 20 with runners in scoring position while being outscored 14-4 during a four-game series sweep at Oakland, losing the finale 4-2 on Sunday. That was enough for the Blue Jays to go from leading the division by one game on Baltimore to trailing the Orioles by two.

"We got shut down big time," manager John Gibbons said. "We're just not very good right now. We're just not producing."

Losing Encarnacion figures to make it far more difficult for Toronto to recover. The first baseman was put on the 15-day disabled list Monday with a right quad strain suffered Saturday.

He's second in the majors with 26 homers and 70 RBIs.

"It hurts us not having him on the team," said outfielder Jose Bautista, who was picked for the AL All-Star squad, along with Encarnacion and left-hander Mark Buehrle. "The No. 1 priority is to get him better."

Bautista is still trying to shake off the effects of a recent hamstring injury, and is 5 for 24 in six games since returning. He was the designated hitter for the first five, but played first base on Sunday with Encarnacion out and Adam Lind still struggling with a foot injury.

While the Jays search for a solution to their slump, Weaver (9-6, 3.56 ERA) is looking to keep pace with Garrett Richards for the team lead in wins by continuing his success against Toronto.

The right-hander is 9-2 with a 3.48 ERA in 11 career starts against Toronto, winning four in a row at home behind a 1.99 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 31 2-3 innings.

He's held Bautista to 1 for 12 with a double, including 0 for 3 while allowing one run and four hits in 6 1-3 innings of a 9-3 win at Toronto on May 11.

Weaver wasn't nearly that sharp while emerging with a 7-5 win over the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday, giving up five runs and nine hits - two homers - in 5 2-3 innings.

Unlike the Jays, Los Angeles (51-36) is batting .295 with 22 homers and 6.1 runs per game during a 13-3 stretch. The Angels hit a whopping .353 with six homers and 29 runs while sweeping a four-game series from Houston, capping it with a 6-1 win Sunday behind Richards' 11 strikeouts in 7 1-3 innings.

Albert Pujols went 9 for 16 with two homers and seven RBIs in that series after hitting .235 with one home run over the previous 13 games.

The Jays are looking to win a third straight game with J.A. Happ (7-4, 4.38) on the mound. The left-hander didn't get a decision Wednesday, allowing four runs in seven innings of a 7-4 victory over Milwaukee six days after collecting a season-high eight strikeouts in 7 2-3 of a 7-0 win over the White Sox.

He's been tagged for eight runs in 6 2-3 innings while losing both of his starts against the Angels, but will be making his first appearance in Anaheim.