The Toronto Blue Jays are .500 through two stops of their 10-game road trip and looking to finish strong with four games against the Minnesota Twins
Getting through the top-half of the Blue Jays order will be a tall order for Twins starter Jason Marquis
Henderson Alvarez (2-2, 2.83 ERA) gets the start for Toronto, looking to build on last week’s impressive complete game shutout in Anaheim. Alvarez is averaging 7.1 innings pitched through his last three starts and in two road starts this year he’s logged 16 innings with a 1.12 ERA and 0.88 WHIP.
Alvarez has made six mistakes this season that were taken out of the park but five were at Rogers Centre, aka “Homer Dome North”. Other than that he’s getting “Romero-like” ground ball numbers and averaging 14 pitches per inning through five starts.
Jason Marquis (2-1, 5.40) has a career 4.56 ERA and 1.44 WHIP and opponents hit .272 against him. It’s just what this Blue Jays lineup needs right now as their confidence starts to come around. He’s 1-1 all-time vs. Jays with a 4.15 ERA and 1.46 WHIP.
Baseball odds at Pinnacle Sports list Toronto -138 and the total is 8.5 Under (-115). Laying a run with Toronto reduces the juice to -110 and that’s the direction we’re headed.
Toronto is 8-7 at home this year where hitting has been just better than average. Numbers take a sharp drop when the Jays are traveling and the average falls more than 45 points to .215 but manager John Farrell has made some adjustments and things are starting to come around
Kelly Johnson is now hitting leadoff and he has five hits, three walks and three stolen bases the last four games. Edwin Encarnacion was moved into the four spot to take pressure off Adam Lind and the shuffle had an immediate impact; both players hitting home runs yesterday in Oakland.
Jose Bautista continues to struggle but he, Johnson and Encarnacion have all had 14-plus at bats against Marquis, registering 15 hits, three home runs, nine RBI and seven base on balls. That’s the No. 1, 3 and 4 spots in Toronto’s newest order and it could spell trouble for Marquis.
Only two hitters from the Twins lineup have faced Alvarez and they are combined 1 for 5 with 3 strikeouts. Target Field is a pitcher friendly park where the punchless Twins have hit just 10 out of the yard all season. Confidence is steadily growing with the Blue Jays hitters and matched with another strong outing from Alvarez, we are backing the road team to start this series with a ‘W’.
Pick: Take the Blue Jays -1 run (-110)