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Toronto Blue Jays aim to end skid vs. Los Angeles Angels

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A fan hold a sign as Los Angeles Angels' Albert Pujols gets ready to bat in the fourth inning against the Seattle Mariners on May 4 at Safeco Field in Seattle, Wash. Photo by Jim Bryant/UPI | License Photo

By Larry Millson, The Sports Xchange

The Los Angeles Angels ended their five-game losing streak Sunday.

Next, they will be facing the Toronto Blue Jays, who will be trying to end a four-game losing streak of their own at the Angels' expense.

The struggling teams will open a three-game series on Tuesday night at the Rogers Centre.

Home has not been particularly sweet for the Blue Jays. Their sloppy and embarrassing 9-2 loss that completed a four-game sweep by the Oakland Athletics on Sunday dropped their home record to 11-15.

"Wash it off, move on, day off tomorrow, show up Tuesday," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said after the game Sunday in which his team made four official errors and several other miscues. "We're obviously better than that. But we're in a bad stretch right now, we're not playing real good baseball in a bunch of different areas. Seen it before, will see it again, that's the nature of the beast."

The Blue Jays (22-25) have lost five straight series at home and are three games below .500 for the first time this season.

The Angels (26-21) have enjoyed playing on the road so far, going 14-4, but are 12-17 at home, including a just-completed 4-7 homestand.

The game Tuesday is the beginning of a 10-game trip for the Angels.

Shohei Ohtani, the Angels' double-threat pitcher/designated hitter, threw a career-best 7 2/3 innings on Sunday at Angel Stadium, limiting the Tampa Bay Rays to two runs and six hits, striking out nine and walking one in the 5-2 victory that ended the Angels' losing streak.

The 23-year-old, a right-handed pitcher and a left-handed batter, is also hitting .321 with six home runs, five doubles and 17 RBIs in 84 at-bats and his games in Toronto will be as a DH.

"Right now, we're trying to see some parts of our club grow and get better, and he's very important to us as a pitcher and a hitter," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.

The Angels will start right-hander Garrett Richards (4-2, 3.47 ERA) against Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ (5-3, 4.15).

Richards will be making his 10th start of the season and fifth on the road in the opener on Tuesday. It will be his first start against the Blue Jays since Aug. 23, 2015, at Angel Stadium and his first start at the Rogers Centre since May 9, 2014.

In seven career games (five starts) against Toronto, he is 2-3 with a 5.74 ERA. In five career games (three starts) at Toronto, he is 1-2 with a 5.12 ERA.

Richards took the loss Wednesday against the Houston Astros after tossing a season-best seven innings and allowing two runs (both unearned) and four hits with one walk and four strikeouts. He has a 1.42 ERA in his past three starts.

Happ is coming off his best start of the season on Wednesday when he allowed two hits, no walks and struck out 10 in a 5-3 win over the New York Mets at Citi Field. That followed his worst start of the season on May 10 when he allowed 10 hits and seven runs to the Seattle Mariners in 3 1/3 innings.

He is 1-6 with a 6.17 ERA in seven career starts against the Angels.

After the loss Sunday, the Blue Jays sent shortstop Richard Urena to Triple-A Buffalo on option and will make a corresponding move Tuesday. Urena made two errors Sunday.

The Angels put catcher Rene Rivera on the disabled list Sunday with right knee inflammation and called up catcher Jose Briceno, who was batting .261 with six home runs and 20 RBIs in 23 games at Triple-A Salt Lake City.

"Over the last couple years, we've seen a young catcher grow from a guy that you would consider a major league skill set of tools to a guy who is refined now to understand what he needs to do to help a pitcher through a game," Scioscia said.

Meanwhile, the Blue Jays are saying all the usual things about their plight.

"We can't get too far ahead of ourselves," struggling Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson said. "We can't focus too much on what's happened in the past. You've got to stay in the moment. You've got to stay for the day. As cliche as it sounds, you've got to take it one day at a time."

"It's only May," Blue Jays outfielder Curtis Granderson said. "Regardless, if we were playing a team that was in first place, had the best record in baseball, or a team that had the worst record in baseball, we still have to put ourselves in a position to win the series. It doesn't matter who the opponent happens to be."

Neither veteran player distinguished himself Sunday. Donaldson made a costly error and made a few other poor defensive plays while going 0-for-3.

Granderson was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. He whiffed in the third inning with runners at second and third and one out and the infield back with the score 1-0 for Oakland.

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Sports - U.S. Daily News: Toronto Blue Jays aim to end skid vs. Los Angeles Angels
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