Getting Jose Bautista and Aaron Hill back in the lineup wasn’t enough to help the Toronto Blue Jays break out of their recent offensive funk.
Their slump could continue Monday night when they face Max Scherzer and the Detroit Tigers in the finale of a four-game set.
Toronto (15-19) has batted .212 and scored 17 runs in six games this month. The Jays’ struggles at the plate have been due in part to Bautista’s five-game absence with neck spasms and Hill’s stint on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring.
Both players returned Sunday, one day after Toronto was no-hit by Justin Verlander. Bautista, batting .352, hit his 10th home run and Hill singled, but Toronto finished with seven hits in a 5-2 loss, its sixth in eight games.
“We could have done a better job, myself included, with some other at-bats,” Bautista said. “We didn’t get a lot of baserunners today so it was hard to score runs. Our pitching has done a great job giving us chances but on the offensive side we’ve got to pick it up a little bit.”
First baseman Adam Lind was held out Sunday with tightness in his lower back, but hopes to play Monday. He is batting .465 over his last 11 games and the Blue Jays could definitely use his help against Scherzer (5-0, 3.15 ERA), who is coming off one of his best starts of the season.
The right-hander yielded four hits in eight scoreless innings for the second time in three outings Wednesday to beat New York 4-0. He struck out a season-high nine.
“My mentality is the best pitch in the game is strike one,” Scherzer told the team’s official website. “You don’t have to be too fine, but you have to be aggressive.”
Scherzer, looking to tie for the major league lead in wins, can help the Tigers (17-18) move back to .500 for the first time since April 27.
Scherzer gave up one run over eight innings and struck out eight in his only matchup with the Blue Jays, a 7-1 road victory Aug. 26.
He’ll be opposed by Brandon Morrow (1-1, 3.06), who will try to build on his first win after starting the season on the disabled list with inflammation in his pitching arm.
He lost his debut against Tampa Bay on April 23, but allowed one run over 6 1-3 innings and struck out seven to beat the Rays 3-2 on Wednesday.
“I thought he had his most consistent velocity from start to finish,” manager John Farrell told the team’s official website.
Morrow has gone 8-1 with a 2.27 ERA in his last 13 home starts, earning one of those wins against Detroit on Aug. 28. He gave up one run over six innings and struck out nine in a 5-4 victory – his lone start versus the Tigers.
Victor Martinez is the only Tigers player to get more than one hit off Morrow in his career, going 3 for 4. Bautista has gone 2 for 3 with a homer and a double against Scherzer.
Detroit’s Austin Jackson had three hits for second straight day Sunday, one of them a tiebreaking two-run homer in the seventh inning.
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