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Preview: Blue Jays (82-62) at Braves (57-88)
Venue: Turner Field
Date: September 16, 2015 7:10 PM EDT
In need of pitching help at the trade deadline, the Toronto Blue Jays landed an ace in David Price. He may end up winning a Cy Young Award.
With the offense sputtering and Edwin Encarnacion possibly out again, Price will try to help the Blue Jays avoid their first three-game losing streak since the All-Star break Wednesday night against the Atlanta Braves.
Toronto (82-62) was a game under .500 with one of the worst rotations in baseball at a 4.39 ERA after losing to Philadelphia on July 28.
Two days later, Price (15-5, 2.46 ERA) arrived in a trade with Detroit. The left-hander’s 6-1 record, 2.28 ERA and 10.57 strikeouts per nine innings in eight starts have helped the Blue Jays go 32-11 since that defeat to the Phillies, moving them atop the AL East by three games on second-place New York.
“To play the way that we have since the trade deadline has been pretty special,” Price told MLB’s official website.
Price could enter free agency after the season as the reigning Cy Young winner. He is second in the AL in ERA and innings (201 1-3) behind Houston’s Dallas Keuchel, who also starts Wednesday, and is among the top five in wins and strikeouts (203).
The five-time All-Star has a 2.08 ERA while winning all four of his road starts with Toronto. He’s received a whopping 36 runs of support in those victories, but the potent Blue Jays offense has only managed two runs in two games since losing Encarnacion and Troy Tulowitzki.
The Jays, who haven’t dropped three straight since July 8-10, totaled nine hits in the last two defeats as Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista combined to go 1 for 16. While Tulowitzki (shoulder) is expected to miss two weeks, Encarnacion (finger) remains day to day. His 42 RBIs since Aug. 5 are the most in baseball.
Toronto followed Sunday’s 5-0 loss to the Yankees with Tuesday’s 3-2 defeat in Atlanta (57-88).
“The story was we didn’t score,” said manager John Gibbons, whose team leads the majors with 203 homers and 5.5 runs per game. “Bottom line is we win when we score.”
Andrelton Simmons’ walkoff single Tuesday snapped the Braves’ 12-game home losing streak, their longest since moving to Atlanta in 1966.
“We’ve been struggling to get wins lately,” Simmons said. “We’ve been playing better, but getting the win is pretty big.”
A win would be a relief to Shelby Miller (5-14, 2.86), who has lost 13 straight decisions to tie Jim Acker (1987-89) for the longest slide by a Braves pitcher since ’66. Miller’s string of 21 starts without a victory is also the club’s longest since Carl Morton went 22 from 1975-76.
The right-hander, though, isn’t entirely to blame as he’s getting an average of 1.47 runs of support over his winless stretch, getting no runs in 11 games including the last three.
Miller gave up three runs in six innings of Thursday’s 7-2 loss to the New York Mets.
“You would think so (that it’s frustrating), but you have to keep going out there and grinding,” said Miller, who has lost a career-high five straight starts behind a 5.04 ERA.
He’s won both career starts against the Blue Jays with a 1.20 ERA, yielding two runs in six innings of a 5-2 win at Toronto on April 19. Miller has held Donaldson, Encarnacion and Bautista to a combined 2 for 16.
Price has a 2.25 ERA while splitting two starts against the Braves, the last coming in 2012.