The Toronto Blue Jays hope they have turned the corner and will depart Canada's largest city for nine games, starting with tonight's opener of a three-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Blue Jays swept the Philadelphia Phillies in three games over the weekend and entered the series having lost three straight and six of seven games. In Sunday's 6-2 triumph that completed the sweep, Colby Rasmus powered the Jays with three hits, including a home run, and three RBI.
"Just an outstanding day (for Rasmus)," said Toronto manager John Farrell.
Rasmus is hitting .322 with seven home runs, six doubles and 18 RBI in the past 20 games. Kelly Johnson and Rajai Davis drove in a run apiece, while Brett Cecil made his 2012 debut by tossing five solid innings of two-run ball. Both runs came on solo homers from Jim Thome and John Mayberry early on.
Joe Bautista walked and has reached base safely in 17 straight games.
Toronto, which is slated to visit Miami and Boston on the trek, will send struggling right-hander Henderson Alvarez to the mound Monday and he is 0-4 with a 5.50 earned run average in his last six starts -- all Blue Jays losses. Alvarez yielded four runs and nine hits, including three homers, in seven innings of a 4-2 loss to Washington last Tuesday.
Alvarez fell to 3-6 in 13 starts this season and saw his earned run average balloon to 3.87. He has never faced Milwaukee and is 2-1 in five starts outside of Rogers Centre this season.
Milwaukee has lost five of eight games and finished 2-4 on a recent road trip.
The Brewers sustained a 5-4 loss to Minnesota on Sunday, as Denard Span singled home the game-winning run in the bottom of the 15th inning. Tim Dillard was saddled with the loss for putting the Twins in scoring position and allowed a run and four hits in 2 2/3 frames. Zack Greinke started the game for Milwaukee and did not record a decision, as he lasted eight innings and permitted four runs and 11 hits.
"Just left too many balls over the plate. Especially that one inning. Most of their hits were on mistakes, just catching too much of the plate," Greinke said.
Corey Hart hit a three-run homer and Aramis Ramirez had the other RBI for the Brewers, who were outhit, 20-15, and sit 8 1/2 games off the pace in the National League Central standings. The Brewers were 3-for-17 with runners in scoring position and Ryan Braun extended his interleague hitting streak to 22 games by going 1-for-7. Braun has an overall streak of 12 games, batting .346 with five homers and 11 RBI in that time.
The Brewers are 16-17 at home this season, going 5-6-0 in series play, and will try to get Randy Wolf a win tonight. Wolf is 0-3 with a 4.10 earned run average in his past eight starts and his seven innings of one-run ball were wasted in Wednesday's 4-3 loss at Kansas City. Wolf is 2-5 with a 5.06 ERA in 13 starts this season.
Wolf, who hasn't won since April 30 at San Diego, is 1-3 in seven home starts in 2012 and 1-0 with a 1.42 ERA in two career starts against Toronto.
Milwaukee swept the Jays in three games the last time these two clubs met from June 17-19, 2008 at Miller Park.