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News » Athletics-Blue Jays Preview 2009-04-17

Athletics-Blue Jays Preview 2009-04-17

Athletics-Blue Jays Preview 2009-04-17
Behind an impressive offense, the Toronto Blue Jays have a chance for their best start in eight years. A visit from the Oakland Athletics gives them a good opportunity to continue their strong early run.

The Blue Jays will look to extend their recent dominance over the Athletics when the teams open a three-game series at Rogers Centre on Friday night.

Toronto (8-3) was locked in a tight battle Thursday night in Minnesota but scored seven runs in the seventh inning en route to a 9-2 victory - its third in four games with the Twins.

After outscoring Minnesota 31-13 and collecting 56 hits in their third straight series win, the Blue Jays lead the major leagues with 77 runs and 128 hits entering Friday. Toronto again received multiple contributions in their latest victory, with Kevin Millar hitting his fourth career grand slam and leadoff man - and former A's player - Marco Scutaro showing his power with a double and a home run.

Scutaro was one of five players with multi-hit performances Thursday as Aaron Hill had three and Vernon Wells, Rob Barajas and Jose Bautista each finished with a pair.

"Everyone is clicking," Millar said. "It's like a snowball effect."

Scutaro had 39 career homers coming into 2009, but has three this season and is on pace to shatter his career-high nine set in 2005 with Oakland. Scutaro's 2-for-5 performance pushed his average to .310, making him one of eight Blue Jays players above the .300 mark, led by Hill's .380.

Searching for its first 9-3 start since 2001, Toronto will try to help David Purcey earn his first win of the season in his first career start against Oakland. Although he has 15 strikeouts in two starts, Purcey (0-1, 4.63 ERA) has allowed eight runs - six earned - in 11 2-3 innings.

The Blue Jays will also try for their seventh straight win over Oakland and fifth in a row at home after a four-game sweep from Aug. 4-7 last season. Toronto has outscored the Athletics 35-10 over its six wins and won the most recent series by a 21-9 count.

Oakland, meanwhile, will look to left-hander Josh Outman (0-0, 6.23) to help break that skid. In his first start this season - and fifth of his career April 11, Outman allowed three runs on six hits in an 8-5 loss to visiting Seattle. He has never faced Toronto.

Following a sweep to visiting Seattle, Oakland (4-5) bounced back by winning two of three over Boston to wrap up its homestand but couldn't come away with a sweep, falling 8-2 on Wednesday.

After producing 14 runs and 23 hits in the first two games, the A's didn't get their first hit off Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield until there was one out in the eighth inning.

"We hit the ball hard off him, and they made a few good plays," second baseman Mark Ellis said. "The way the ball moves, you think it's going away, and all of a sudden it breaks back over the plate. A knuckleball is kind of a flip of the coin: some days it's on. You don't see it very often."

The team's designated hitters, Jack Cust and Jason Giambi, are the only players hitting over .300, but Cust, who leads Oakland at .333, has proved more consistent with a hit in seven of the last eight games.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 17, 2009

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