MLB

Jays open series with Rangers to start second half

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The Sports Network
7/18/2014 11:16:02 AM
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The Toronto Blue Jays start their second-half quest to regain ground in the American League East as they open a three game series with the Texas Rangers tonight at Rogers Centre.

Toronto went into the break two games above .500 at 49-47. It could have been so much better, though, as the Blue Jays were 14 games above .500 on June 6 and held a six-game advantage atop the American League East.

But thanks to losses in 23 of 34 games Toronto finds itself four games back of Baltimore in the American League East. The Blue Jays also limped into the break, dropping seven of their last nine games.

"We're in second place," outfielder Jose Bautista said. "We're obviously not playing the baseball that we started off playing and that we're capable of playing. We've had a lot of injuries to deal with.

"Bottom line is, we've got to figure out how to win some of these games that we've been losing, especially close ones. Hopefully we can manage to keep winning enough games to stay in one of the top two positions in our division, and when we get all our big bats back, kind of get back in the thick of things."

Still, the Blue Jays have at least 49 wins at the break for the first time since 2006

On Friday, Toronto will hand the ball to righty R.A. Dickey, who has lost five of his last six starts. Dickey lost to Tampa Bay on Sunday, but pitched well, giving up just two runs in six innings, but still fell to 7-9 on the year to go along with a 3.82 ERA.

Dickey, who started his career with Texas back in 2001, is 2-1 against his former team with a 2.91 ERA in six games (3 starts).

Toronto took two of three from the Rangers earlier this season.

No team needed the break more than Texas, which has lost eight straight and 22 of its last 25 games. The Rangers have also lost 11 of their last 12 on the road and now occupy last place in the American League West, 21 games back of first-place Oakland.

"Commitment is doing what the game asks you to do and not looking for a reward for what you're doing," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "I'm in the process of getting this new bunch to understand what it means. Don't worry about stats or numbers. It's about the team. Some people need to check their attitude and check what commitment is."

The Rangers haven't dropped nine in a row since May 30-June 8, 2003.

"It has been tough," Washington said. "Through it all, they have handled it very well. In reality, we'd liked to have handled it better and get more wins. It didn't happen, but I didn't see any letdown."

Getting the call for the Rangers on Friday will be All-Star Yu Darvish, who was one of the few bright spots on the team, going 8-5 with a 2.97 ERA. Darvish, though, is just 1-3 with a 5.40 ERA over his last five starts.

"Just a little erratic. He usually finds himself on the course of the ballgame," Washington said. "There have been a couple of games there where he's been having trouble just trying to find the pitches he wanted to use as a combination."

Darvish is 2-2 with a 2.63 ERA in six career starts against Toronto.

R.A. Dickey (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)

Tonight's Blue Jays lineup vs. Rangers

1. Jose Reyes-SS
2. Melky Cabrera-LF
3. Jose Bautista-RF
4. Dioner Navarro-DH
5. Dan Johnson-1B
6. Colby Rasmus-CF
7. Juan Francisco-3B
8. Josh Thole-C
9. Munenori Kawasaki-2B
SP R.A. Dickey

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