MLB Insiders: Toronto Blue Jays

The Pirates open a three-game series in Toronto on Tuesday night. Righty Kevin Correia will start for the Bucs. The Blue Jays will toss lefty Jo-Jo Reyes.

The Pittsburgh Pirates hope the success they had on their recent interleague homestand carries over to the road where they've struggled mightily against AL opponents.

Kevin Correia tries to become the majors' latest 10-game winner and help the Pirates avoid a 14th straight interleague road loss Tuesday night against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Pittsburgh (39-38) continued to build confidence after taking two of three each at home from Baltimore and Boston.

The Pirates, however, have one more chance this season to prove they can beat an AL team on the road. Pittsburgh has been outscored 81-30 during a 13-game interleague road skid that dates to June 17, 2009. The Pirates were swept at Cleveland earlier this month.

A sweep at the hands of the Blue Jays (39-40) and Pittsburgh would break the Los Angeles Dodgers' major league-record 15-game interleague road skid set June 14, 2005-June 28, 2006.

The Pirates, who were swept in Toronto in 2003, are less concerned with making history and more focused on beating the Blue Jays.

Pittsburgh hopes Correia (9-6, 3.65 ERA) can help after he allowed four runs in six innings to avoid a third consecutive loss in Wednesday's 5-4 win over the Orioles.

Correia is 7-2 with a 2.34 ERA on the road this season, but took the loss despite giving up one earned run in 5 2-3 innings of a 5-1 defeat at Cleveland on June 17.

The right-hander gave up five runs in five innings of a 7-1 loss to the Blue Jays while with San Diego last season.

Toronto's Jo-Jo Reyes (3-6, 4.34) takes the mound looking to bounce back after he allowed four runs on two homers in 5 1-3 innings of a 5-1 loss at Atlanta on Wednesday. The left-hander has gone 1-2 with a 5.00 ERA after posting a 2.35 ERA while winning his previous two starts.

Reyes allowed five runs in 5 2-3 innings of a 10-0 loss in his only appearance versus Pittsburgh with the Braves on April 18, 2009.

Jose Molina has been on a nice little run at the plate lately.

After going 1-for-3 in Monday's 4-2 loss at Detroit, the backup catcher is batting .311.

But it's even better when you count his past 14 games, 13 of them starts, including Monday. He is batting .378 in those games with three doubles, one homer, four RBI, eight runs and seven walks.

He was 0-for-2 with two strikeouts when he came to bat in the seventh inning against Tigers starter Max Scherzer. Corey Patterson had just bunted for a single.

Molina executed a perfect sacrifice to move Patterson to second. At first glance, it seems not bad as a strategy, even if it was somewhat unaggressive. But it was a 2-2 game and the Blue Jays were on the road, so trying to push one across there was OK, if uninspired.

That is until you saw the next two hitters. Then the only question was why? They were Jayson Nix and Rajai Davis, also both 0-for-2 on the game and riding lengthy slumps.

Each hit for himself. Nix came up with a batting average of .086 (3-for-33) since June 9, with one walk, one RBI and 10 strikeouts. He struck out.

Davis came to bat with a .092 average (6-for-65) since June 4 with three RBI, one walk and 19 strikeouts. He fouled out to third. Inning over.

So in effect the Blue Jays took the bat out of the hands of a player who has been hitting, and left it in the hands of two guys who haven't been for a long time.

Notes, Quotes

RF Jose Bautista has yet to make the switch to third base that was announced Thursday to help boost the offensive production from the position. He played right field in Monday's game makeup game at Detroit with INF Jayson Nix at third. Bautista has been working before games to get ready for a return to third base. The move could take place Tuesday when the Blue Jays open a three-game series at home against Pittsburgh.

"Obviously if I felt ready I would have played (third Monday)," Bautista said. "So (Monday) we did more work, and we'll see what they decide to go with (Tuesday). But I think I've got another early work session (Tuesday), and we'll see how it feels."

Bautista had a single, a double and an RBI in the 4-2 loss at Detroit. He has a 12-game hit streak against the Tigers. In those games, he is batting .422 (19-for-45) with seven doubles and four homers.

LHP Ricky Romero, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, on Sunday became the first American League pitcher to drive in two or more runs while throwing a shutout since California LHP Clyde Wright had two RBI in a two-hit, 4-0 win over Texas at Anaheim on Sept. 14, 1972. That was the year before the designated-hitter rule was implemented in the AL. Romero shut out the Cardinals 5-0 at St. Louis and hit a two-run single in the sixth inning.

RHP Jesse Litsch (right shoulder impingement) will make at least two more starts for Class AA New Hampshire before he rejoins the Blue Jays. Manager John Farrell said, "Last time out, he threw 53 pitches (Thursday), and ideally we'll want him up to 85-90 pitches before we activate him."

OF Eric Thames was 1-for-4 with a double and three strikeouts in his second start in left field Monday after being recalled from Class AAA Las Vegas on Friday. "He'll get reps in left, right and the DH, with the stated plan of getting Jose (Bautista) to third base, hopefully (Tuesday) or the next day," manager John Farrell said. "Depending on the matchup, that's where he'll be. He'll be in both left and right, and we'll have more flexibility to rotate (Juan Rivera, Corey Patterson, Rajai Davis) and Eric through the outfield with a little bit more regularity."

Farrell used left-handed-hitting Patterson at DH against Detroit RHP Max Scherzer on Monday.

"We wanted to get the three left-handed bats in the lineup," Farrell said. "We're in the process of, and going to, get a more extended look with Eric in the outfield. Given how large this outfield is (at Comerica Park), I felt like Rajai's presence in center field was needed, and yet, at the same time, getting Corey in there was by design going up against Scherzer."

By The Numbers: 9—Home runs by 1B Adam Lind since he was reinstated from the disabled list on June 4. He homered in the fourth inning of Monday's 4-2 loss at Detroit. He has 16 homers for the season.

Quote To Note: "Right off the bat I knew I had a shot at it, standing up. Halfway through the flight, it got into the lights. I took about six or seven steps hoping it would come out. That's when I decided I had to slide to try to block it." —RF Jose Bautista, on his attempt to catch a sinking drive hit by Tigers SS Jhonny Peralta in the eighth inning Monday. The ball got past him for the go-ahead triple in the Blue Jays' 4-2 loss at Detroit.

Medical Watch:

RHP Casey Janssen (sore right forearm) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 15. An MRI found no structural damage. He began a throwing program in Dunedin, Fla., on June 23 and could return in early July.

RHP Jesse Litsch (right shoulder impingement) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive May 19. He began a rehab assignment with Class A Lansing on June 18, and he moved his rehab to Class AA New Hampshire on June 23. He will need about four starts in the minors before the Blue Jays will consider returning him to the majors.

RHP Dustin McGowan (right shoulder surgery in June 2010) went on the 60-day disabled list March 12. He was throwing in extended spring training in late May. He progressed to two-inning stints from one inning in early June, and he will stay at that pace before adding an inning in July.

LHP Jesse Carlson (strained left shoulder) went on the 60-day disabled list March 29. He underwent season-ending rotator cuff surgery May 26.

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