With help from a healthy and thriving Jose Bautista, the Toronto Blue Jays have a chance at their longest win streak in nearly three years.
Judging by Rick Porcello’s recent starts for the Detroit Tigers, pulling off that feat might not be easy.
Porcello aims for his fourth consecutive victory Tuesday night, but he’ll have to cool off Bautista and the Blue Jays, winners of six in a row.
Toronto (21-20) went 2-3 while Bautista sat out with neck spasms earlier this month. The Blue Jays dropped the first two games after he returned at home to the Tigers (22-19), but began their winning streak the following night. They opened this two-game set with a 4-2 victory Monday, moving above .500 for the first time since April 15.
Bautista scored the go-ahead run on Aaron Hill’s double as part of a three-run eighth-inning rally, and went 2 for 5 to extend his hitting streak to eight games. The Tigers, meanwhile, had their seven-game winning streak snapped.
“Things are going really well right now,” Toronto catcher J.P. Arencibia said. “Our pitching staff is giving us a chance to win every night, and the hitters are taking advantage.”
Bautista is batting .400 with seven home runs and 11 RBIs during the winning streak, raising his average to .370. He’s reached base safely in 18 straight games.
He’ll put that streak on the line against Porcello (3-2, 3.67 ERA). The right-hander has a 1.99 ERA over his last five starts and overcame a 64-minute weather delay to allow one run and three hits over five innings of a 10-2 victory at Minnesota on Tuesday.
Porcello says he’s been inspired by the performances of fellow Detroit starters Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer.
“I want to follow suit with that. I want to do my job,” Porcello said. “Just watching them attack guys and get guys out I think kind of rubs off on everybody.”
Porcello is 2-1 with a 2.84 ERA in his last three starts against the Blue Jays. Another victory would prevent Toronto from its longest winning streak since a 10-game run Aug. 30-Sept. 9, 2008.
The Blue Jays will counter with Jesse Litsch (4-2, 4.14), who is searching for his third straight win.
The right-hander allowed one run over 6 1-3 innings and struck out nine in a 7-4 victory over the Tigers on May 6. He followed that effort by giving up three runs and six hits over 5 2-3 innings of a 9-3 win over Boston on Wednesday.
“Since coming back from (Triple-A Las Vegas on April 25), he has put together some solid outings,” manager John Farrell told the Blue Jays’ official website.
Litsch has a 1.46 ERA in two starts at Comerica but has yet to earn a decision. He’s 1-1 with a 2.92 ERA in four overall outings against the Tigers.
Bautista is 5 for 10 in his career against Porcello.
The Blue Jays will be without first baseman Adam Lind, whom they placed on the 15-day disabled list Monday with a sore lower back.
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