Published January 13, 2015
After splitting a two-game set in Toronto, the Blue Jays and Braves travel south to Turner Field to begin another two-game series in Atlanta on Wednesday.
Brian McCann, playing as the designated hitter, homered twice for Atlanta in Tuesday's 7-6 extra-innings victory. His solo shot in the 10th inning was the difference-maker. In the sixth inning, he went back-to-back with rookie Evan Gattis, who filled in admirably behind the dish through the season's first five weeks while McCann was recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.
Gattis leads the team with 32 RBI despite garnering only 20 plate appearances over Atlanta's last 11 games. Still, he has remained productive, with five home runs and 12 RBI in that span. With the series now shifting to a National League ballpark, it will be interesting to see how manager Fredi Gonzalez fills out his lineup card.
"We've got a good American League lineup," Gattis said. "We've got a lot of power guys."
Atlanta has won nine of 11 to open a 4 1/2-game lead over Washington in the NL East standings.
Meanwhile, the Blue Jays are looking to stay afloat in the AL East as they begin a seven-game road swing. They'll need continued production from right fielder Jose Bautista, who has raised his batting average from .195 to .299 since May 1. He is hitting .382 (34-for-89) for the month of May.
Esmil Rogers will make his first start since 2011 on Wednesday. Rogers has pitched 7 1/3 shutout innings over his last four appearances as a reliever for Toronto, and that includes back-to-back three-inning outings.
"I wasn't looking for the opportunity, but they gave it to me," Rogers said, adding that he'll need to use more than the three pitches he normally uses as a reliever. "I'll take it, and I'll try to do my best.
"They surprised me a little bit, but I know after getting the opportunity the last couple of games to throw three innings, I think they saw I can start, and they gave me the opportunity to start now."
For Atlanta, Kris Medlen will try to end an eight-start winless streak. Medlen has been tough to hit at home during his big league career, but he has not gotten much support from his offense this season. The right-hander gave up three runs over six innings in a road start against the Mets on Friday.
The Blue Jays have lost eight of nine in Atlanta.