The Texas Rangers pay a visit to Rogers Centre on Friday to open a three-game set with the Toronto Blue Jays, in what is the first of seven meetings over the next 10 days between the two teams.
The Rangers entered the day with a half-game lead over Oakland in the AL West. They dropped two out of three in Boston after falling in Thursday's series finale, 6-3. Texas coughed up a 3-0 lead and eventually lost on David Ortiz's three-run, walkoff home run. Starter Derek Holland pitched six innings and gave up two runs.
Hot-hitting Adrian Beltre will likely fill the designated hitter slot for this series, given Toronto's artificial surface and the third baseman's tender left hamstring. Beltre, who went 3-for-4 with a home run on Thursday, is hitting at a .435 clip with four home runs and eight RBIs during an 11-game hitting streak.
Manager Ron Washington could turn to utility infielder Leury Garcia to man the hot corner for the series.
"One thing about Leury is he can catch the ball," Washington said. "You hit it to him, he'll catch the ball ... and he will throw it. It may end up in the stands, but he'll throw it."
This marks the Blue Jays' only pit stop at Rogers Centre in a stretch that will see them play 11 of 14 on the road. After suffering a two-game sweep in San Diego over the weekend, they traveled to San Francisco and took two out of three from the Giants.
"It seems like we've been gone a couple of weeks," manager John Gibbons said after Wednesday's 4-0 victory. "With an off-day (Thursday), it'll be big. The guys can use it, especially since we're coming off the West Coast."
R.A. Dickey was the key figure in Wednesday's win, as he allowed only two hits and came two outs short of his first shutout with the Blue Jays.
Toronto's rotation has been hit hard by injuries. Esmil Rogers will move from the bullpen to start Friday's series opener. His first start since 2011 came on May 29 against Atlanta, and he held the Braves scoreless in 3 1/3 innings. The Blue Jays hope Rogers can pitch deeper into the game this time around.
Meanwhile, Rangers rookie starter Nick Tepesch will hope for some more run support than he has gotten of late. The right-hander is winless over his last three starts despite a 2.12 ERA in that span, as the offense has totaled only five runs. Against Kansas City on Saturday, Tepesch gave up just one unearned run in 6 1/3 innings and did not issue a walk.
This marks the first meeting of the season between these two teams, although they will be plenty familiar with one another after the next 10 days. Texas won two of three in its last visit to Toronto from Aug. 17-19.