Indians host suddenly surging Blue Jays

MLB Baseball

Following a rough six-day stretch, the Toronto Blue Jays have regrouped to string together some needed victories.

Meanwhile, the Cleveland Indians are trying to snap out of another rough stretch at home.

The Blue Jays can secure a second straight winning road series while trying to hand the Indians a third consecutive home defeat on Saturday.

Toronto lost a season-high six in a row from May 19-24, but followed by taking two of three from the New York Yankees. The Blue Jays then braved severe winds and blowing rain to open this three-game set with an 11-2, weather-shortened win at Cleveland on Friday.

“For us to compete, you have to compete against the best teams,” manager Charlie Montoyo told the Blue Jays’ official website.

“We’re playing good baseball. It means a lot.”

Toronto’s Randal Grichuk is certainly playing well. With three hits on Friday, the veteran outfielder has hit safely in seven consecutive contests and is batting .311 with 10 RBIs in his last 14 games. Teammate Lourdes Gurriel Jr. doubled twice Friday with four RBIs, and is batting .417 in his last 12 contests.

The Blue Jays, who rank among the majors’ best offensive teams averaging a little more than 5.0 runs and batting .257, will get their first look at Indians rookie and scheduled starter Sam Hentges (1-1, 6.20 ERA) on Saturday. The left-hander will make a fourth straight start after going 0-1 with a 7.15 ERA in the first three of his career this month. Hentges allowed three runs, five hits, three walks and struck out seven in five innings of a 6-5 win at Detroit on Monday.

Cleveland lost for just the fourth time in 10 games overall while yielding its most runs of the season on Friday. The Indians, however, have dropped three of four at home following a three-game winning streak there. They’ve already endured a four-game losing stretch at home this season.

While the Indians are mired in a bit of a home funk, Eddie Rosario continues to fare well at the plate. The veteran was batting .203 on May 19, but is hitting .400 (12-for-30) during an eight-game hitting streak since then.

“I think the difficult part is the mental part,” said Rosario, whose average is up to .237 on the season.

“I realized I just needed to have a stronger mindset and better focus and better mentality.”

Rosario has only one career at-bat against scheduled Blue Jays starter Ross Stripling (0-3, 5.63 ERA), whose first six appearances of 2021 came in a starting role. The right-hander hasn’t had too much success in that spot this season, but he will be back at it after he pitched seven scoreless innings of two-hit baseball out of the bullpen during a 14-8 loss to Tampa Bay on Monday.

Stripling’s only previous outing against Cleveland came in relief while with the Los Angeles Dodgers in June 2017.

The Blue Jays’ victory Friday snapped a five-game losing streak at Cleveland, where they last won two in a row during the 2018 season.

–Field Level Media

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