Twins-Blue Jays preview

TORONTO -- The Toronto Blue Jays are sputtering on offense.

The American League East co-leaders dropped the final two games of a three-game series with the Los Angeles Angels by scores of 8-2 on Wednesday and 6-3 on Thursday.

The Blue Jays face another non-playoff contender Friday, the Minnesota Twins, in the opener of a three-game series at Rogers Centre.

The Twins will start left-hander Pat Dean (1-3, 5.48 ERA) while Toronto will counter with left-hander Francisco Liriano (6-12, 5.21 ERA).

It would help the Blue Jays if the bats, which also were rather quiet while the team lost two of three to the Indians in Cleveland last weekend, started to become more productive.

"There's no doubt we've cooled off," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said after the loss Thursday. "That's due to change, it always does. We've fallen behind, and we haven't been able to mount any (rallies), get that big hit to climb back in it or even open up some games. That'll change.

"It was similar to earlier in the season. There's not a lot of season left, but we're due."

By losing to the Angels on Thursday, the Blue Jays wasted a chance to pull one game ahead of the Boston Red Sox in the division. Instead, the teams remain tied at 71-56 after the Red Sox lost 2-1 to the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday afternoon.

The Baltimore Orioles also lost on Thursday, 4-0 to the Washington Nationals, to remain one game off the pace in the AL East.

The Twins (49-78) lost their seventh game in a row Thursday, 8-5 to the Detroit Tigers in Minnesota, to drop to a season-worst 29 games below .500.

After the loss to the Tigers, the Twins sent right-handers Jose Berrios and Tyler Duffey to Triple-A Rochester.

Berrios allowed six hits, five walks and five runs in five innings Thursday, and Duffey allowed six runs in three innings Wednesday.

Left-hander Andrew Albers will be one of the recalls from Rochester, with the other to be announced Friday.

The Twins also are dealing with injuries. Joe Mauer has been hobbled by a quadriceps problem, but the team hopes he will be available to play Friday. He missed the final two games of the Detroit series.

"I'm thinking about playing him, but it's not set in stone yet," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We'll see how he feels when he gets up there and gets himself ready, and we'll try and make a decision."

The Blue Jays hope to have Devon Travis back in the lineup Friday after the second baseman missed all three games against the Angels due to an injured right ring finger.

Toronto did have Jose Bautista back from a sprained knee on Thursday, and he collected two RBIs.

Dean will be replacing left-hander Hector Santiago, who has a bruised thumb.

"It's just kind of a gripping thing, enough to where we think skipping a start is going to be good for him," Molitor said. "Maybe it will help him.".

It will be the seventh start of the season and the 12th appearance for Dean and. He will start for the first time since being recalled from Triple-A Rochester on Aug. 12 after making three recent relief appearances.

Dean started against the Blue Jays on May 21 at Target Field. He did not factor into the decision after allowing two runs on three hits with three walks and five strikeouts over six innings.

Liriano will make his 25th start of the season Friday, his fourth with the Blue Jays.

After going 6-11 with a 5.46 ERA in 21 starts with the Pittsburgh Pirates, he is 0-1 with a 3.57 ERA in three starts since being traded to Toronto.

He allowed one unearned run in six innings Aug. 19 at Cleveland but did not factor in the decision when the Indians won 3-2 with two runs in the ninth. Liriano, who was with the Twins from 2005-12, is 2-1 with a 5.66 ERA in four career starts against Minnesota.