MLB

Blue Jays-Angels Preview

The Toronto Blue Jays have lost four times in the last 20 games and haven't been able to take control of either of their races, but that's why they brought in David Price.

The former Cy Young winner makes his fourth start since switching uniforms, and Friday night's visit with the Los Angeles Angels could be every bit as important as his last two against AL East-leading New York.

Los Angeles (63-58) trails Toronto (66-55) for the top wild-card spot - a three-game lead that can be erased over the weekend. The Blue Jays are 1 1/2 behind the Yankees, and the Angels trail Houston by 2 1/2 in the West.

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The Blue Jays haven't won a series against the Angels since taking two of three from Aug. 12-14, 2011, going 11-19 in the eight sets since.

"It's a logjam right now," Toronto manager John Gibbons said after Thursday's 7-4 loss in Philadelphia. "We've got to get back in it. Somebody else could, also. It's good baseball."

Price (11-4, 2.41 ERA) was more hittable than normal in last Friday's 4-3 home defeat to the Yankees but avoided the loss, giving up three runs and 11 hits in 7 1-3 innings. He allowed three hits that sparked a four-run eighth.

"That's baseball, that's part of it, and if you don't like it, pitch better," Price told MLB's official website.

The left-hander is 2-0 with a 1.61 ERA in three starts with Toronto, and his work on the road this year has been near that level with a 7-2 record and 1.93 ERA in 12 starts. That success hasn't followed him to Angel Stadium, where he's lost three straight starts with a 5.48 ERA.

Albert Pujols is 3 for 15 against him, but two of the hits were home runs. Mike Trout is 3 for 13 with seven strikeouts in the matchup.

That pair provided the offense with an RBI apiece in Thursday's 8-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox, which denied the Angels a four-game sweep. Offense has been difficult to come by in a 5-8 span with 2.6 runs per game.

Trout had two hits Thursday but has batted .222 in those 13 games.

Up-and-down run support is one of the reasons Hector Santiago doesn't have more wins, particularly at home.

Santiago (7-6, 2.86) is 0-2 with a 5.08 ERA in his last five starts, but he limited Kansas City to two runs and three hits in seven innings of Sunday's 4-3 road loss. He didn't get the decision.

"A good mix of pitches; everything was used," Santiago said. "I was ahead in the count."

The left-hander now returns to his home mound, where he's gone 3-0 with a 2.42 ERA in 12 starts since losing his first outing of the season April 10. Of his 13 home starts, he's received two or fewer runs in nine.

His only career start against the Blue Jays was a 3-2 win May 19 in which Santiago yielded two runs - one earned - and four hits in seven innings. Combined with five relief efforts, he has a 1.80 ERA and .143 opponent batting average in 15 innings against Toronto.

Former AL West opponent Josh Donaldson is 2 for 16 against him, but Justin Smoak is 5 for 8.

Toronto has dropped three of five since its 11-game winning streak. Edwin Encarnacion homered in both games in Philadelphia to extend his career-best hitting streak to 16 games with a .379 average, and the first baseman has also reached base in 21 straight with a .446 on-base percentage.