May 24, 2014 ISN – Two of the American League’s hottest teams will go back at it Saturday afternoon at Rogers Centre.
The Blue Jays — winners in eight of their last 10 contests — will host the A’s in the second game of their weekend series after beating the visitors by a score of 3-2 on Friday night.
Toronto is riding a red-hot offense that has generated 25 runs in the past five games, and prior to Friday, had hit at least two home runs in four straight contests. Oakland, meanwhile, owns a Major-League best 30-18 record, and despite the loss Friday, has won 11 of its last 14.
“When things are going well with offense, it seems to come in bunches,” said Toronto slugger Jose Bautista. “It is contagious when guys are hitting the ball. It relaxes the other guys when one person hits the ball hard. With runners on base, you get better pitches to hit, so it is contagious in that way.”
R.A. Dickey will get the start for the Blue Jays. The 39-year-old knuckleballer is 4-4 with a 4.20 ERA over 10 starts, with all four of his wins coming at Rogers Centre. In Dickey’s last outing, he took the loss at Texas after giving up four runs over 6 1/3 innings.
Former Blue Jay Jesse Chavez will take the mound for Oakland in what will be his first start against Toronto.
The 30-year-old right-hander is looking forward to facing his former team.
“I think because, for me, [the Blue Jays] gave me the opportunity to start, which opened up a different door in my career. I think that’s going to give me the most excitement,” he said. “But at the same time, it’s another game for me. It’s nothing new to me, but it does have a different feel.”
Chavez has allowed one earned run or none in five of his nine starts, and he holds a 2.54 ERA. He has limited opponents to a .216 average, including a .167 mark with runners in scoring position.
The A’s are 8-1 in his starting assignments, with Chavez most recently getting a win in Cleveland after allowing the Indians two runs on six hits with three walks and six strikeouts over five innings.
The Blue Jays sold Chavez to the A’s in August 2012, following one too many struggles in Toronto, where he compiled an 8.44 ERA in nine appearances (two starts).
A’s: Scratched from Friday lineup, Jaso to catch Saturday
John Jaso was in the original lineup for Friday’s series opener in Toronto, but he was scratched because of general tightness from playing on Tropicana Field’s artificial turf.
In order to assure his readiness for a Saturday start behind the plate at Rogers Centre, which also has an artificial playing surface, the A’s took the cautious route with Jaso.
“We just want to make sure he’s 100 percent,” said A’s bench coach Chip Hale, filling in for manager Bob Melvin on Friday. “We don’t think it’s anything that will last longer, and he’ll be ready.”
Jaso is batting .351 with three home runs and eight RBIs over his last 17 games.
Blue Jays: Rogers designated for assignment
As a result of his prolonged struggles in the Blue Jays’ bullpen, hard-throwing righty Esmil Rogers was designated for assignment on Friday.
In a corresponding roster move, Toronto selected the contract of Liam Hendriks, who started against Oakland on Friday night at Rogers Centre and earned the win.
“[Rogers has] been scuffling, we had to make a move,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of Rogers. “And we want to get a look at [Rob] Rasmussen and keep him up here and see what he can do.”
Rogers’ woes were well documented this season, but the club was reluctant to demote him, because he has no Minor League options remaining on his contract. That fact alone was enough to keep him on the 25-man roster, but it became increasingly difficult to justify his role.
The 28-year-old posted a 6.97 ERA in 16 relief appearances this season.
• With his single in the sixth inning on Friday, Jose Bautista has now reached base safely in all but one of his 48 games this season, recording at least a hit in 34.
• The A’s lead the Major Leagues in walks (213) and rank second in runs (243).
• With Steve Tolleson’s home run on Friday, the Blue Jays have now homered in 24 of their last 29 contests since April 22.