The Toronto Blue Jays prepare to face the latest in a long list of tough starters Saturday as they host Jered Weaver and the Los Angeles Angels. Weaver comes in as a mid-season candidate for the American League Cy Young Award. Toronto counters with crafty lefthander Ricky Romero, the ace of the staff.
TV: 1:07 p.m. ET, Rogers Sportsnet (Toronto) of FS FoxWest
PITCHING MATCHUP: Angels RH Jered Weaver (14-5, 1.78 ERA) vs. Blue Jays LH Ricky Romero (10-9. 2.94).
Weaver will return to action after serving a six-game suspension for throwing at Detroit Tigers catcher Alex Avila on July 31. The 28-year-old couldn’t have been much better last time out when he threw nine shutout innings against Seattle but got no help in a game the Angels went on to lose 1-0. Weaver is 7-1 with a 2.68 ERA in eight career starts against Toronto. Romero should provide a viable foil for Weaver - at least, if he throws as well as he has in his last three starts. The 26-year-old southpaw has surrendered only three runs on nine hits in his previous 26 1/3 innings, with all three runs allowed on solo homers. Romero, a Los Angeles native, has a 2-2 record with a 3.76 ERA in four lifetime starts versus the Angels.
ABOUT THE ANGELS (65-54): Vernon Wells earned the bulk of the headlines after homering against his former team in Friday’s 5-1 series-opening win, but it was Torii Hunter who struck the big blow. His two-run double keyed a three-run third inning that ultimately put the game out of reach. Hunter has been on a major tear since the beginning of the month - he is 18-for-37 during a 10-game hitting streak. The Angels are hitting a collective .284 against Romero, but none of them have taken him deep. Infielder Erick Aybar has had the most success against the lefty, going 5-for-13 with three RBIs.
ABOUT THE BLUE JAYS (59-59): Toronto’s offense will be put to the test over a five-game stretch that opened with an uninspiring loss to Ervin Santana. Weaver has manhandled the Jays in his career, though the present Toronto roster is hitting a robust .295 against him. Jose Bautista has had his share of struggles, going 0-for-6 with four strikeouts versus Weaver. The Jays will face 12-game winner Dan Haren in Sunday’s series finale before taking a trip to Seattle, where their first two games will see pitching performances by sensational Mariners rookie Michael Pineda and veteran Jason Vargas, who has three shutouts this season.
FINAL PITCH: Day games agree with Weaver, who is 4-1 with a 1.52 ERA in six matinees this season. Toronto has the worst day-game record in the majors at 16-29.