The Toronto Blue Jays send the defending NL Cy Young award winner to the mound on Saturday afternoon as they attempt to move one step closer to a series sweep of the Texas Rangers.
Toronto won its third game in a row overall on Friday as Mark Buehrle tossed seven scoreless innings and Colby Rasmus belted a three-run homer in the Blue Jays' 8-0 rout of Texas. The victory came one day after Toronto took a 3-1 decision in the series opener of this four-game set.
"We just have to continue to play good baseball from here on out really," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said, adding that pitching would be what dictates how well this team plays.
"We're trying to climb back into this thing. So they go out there every time and give us a chance to win. We have some veteran guys in our rotation that have been around that know what it takes to win; they've been there before, and they have a lot of pride."
R.A. Dickey is the next veteran starter to take the hill for Toronto. He will be looking to bounce back from a poor outing in which he gave up seven runs on 10 hits to the White Sox on Monday. The loss to Chicago came after Dickey lasted 8 1/3 innings without giving up a run to San Francisco.
Dickey is 5-11 with a 5.11 ERA on the season after finishing 2012 with a 20-6 record and a 2.73 ERA. The 38-year old knuckleball pitcher has plenty of experience playing in Arlington as he spent the first five seasons of his major league career in a Rangers uniform.
Toronto's offense was in sync on Friday as Edwin Encarnacion, Adam Lind, Maicer Izturis and Emilio Bonifacio all registered a multi-hit game. Rasmus was not the only Blue Jay to homer as catcher J.P. Arencibia hit a solo shot in the fourth inning.
The Rangers will hope to get a little more out of the bottom half of their lineup after a poor performance on Friday. The five- through nine-hole hitters went 0-for-14 and Elvin Andrus also struggled, going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.
"That's like trying to hit a butterfly," Andrus said of Saturday's matchup against a knuckleball specialist. "It's tough, but we've faced a guy like that before in (former Boston Red Sox pitcher) Tim Wakefield, and you can go from there."
Texas will hand the ball to right-hander Josh Lindblom on Saturday. The 26- year-old is 0-1 with a 5.91 ERA in two starts this season but owns a 3.56 ERA in his career.
The Rangers are in danger of losing five consecutive home games for the first time since Sept. 2009. They are just 1-4 against Toronto this season but have won six of the past 11 meetings dating back to last year.