Series Preview: Rangers/Blue Jays

Armed with some newly added youth to the ballclub, the Rangers take their show north of the border this weekend for a three game series with the Toronto Blue Jays. Lone Star Dugout has your look at this weekend's proceedings.

Texas Rangers (48-60) at Toronto Blue Jays (53-54)

Friday, 6:07 PM: Kevin Millwood (7-9, 5.95) vs. Roy Halladay (11-5, 4.04)

After a recent stretch of some nicely pitched baseball, the past two outings have left Millwood stuck in a rut of sorts. His last outing in Kansas City was an utterly regrettable one: Six runs on nine hits in an abbreviated 2 2/3 inning appearance. With a 2-6 record and 5.83 ERA, the road hasn't been a friendly place for the righty at all this year. The numbers get worse from there on out as well: Opponents are hitting .304 off him, including .325 with runners in scoring position, and they're off him10-for-21 with the bases loaded. Lifetime against the Blue Jays, the veteran is 1-3 with a 6.42 ERA in six career starts.

Roy Halladay has had an interesting year. Recently, he saw a string of 21 scoreless innings come to an end when the White Sox scored two runs off him in their half of the seventh inning. But despite his 11-5 record, Halladay is arguably in the middle of one of his most trying years as a Blue Jay. At 4.05, his ERA is the highest it's been since an injury shortened season back in 2004. Historically, he's picked up the most of his 106 career wins before the All-Star Break. But Halladay has been a much better pitcher numbers-wise in the second half of the year – albeit in fewer games.

Saturday, 12:07 PM: Kameron Loe (5-9, 5.80) vs. Shaun Marcum (7-4, 3.67)
Another guy who seems to have regressed as of late is Saturday's starter, Kameron Loe. After a Sunday start last weekend that saw the big righthander allow six runs in 5 1/3 innings, Loe's record fell to 0-3 with a 6.08 ERA over the last five appearances. He's yielded 17 runs in 20 2/3 innings since July 6 and the Rangers are just 1-3 in those starts. Loe last pitched against the Blue Jays back on May 6th, and did a pretty bang-up job, allowing just one run over 6 2/3 innings. Combined with three relief appearances, Loe is now 1-0 with an 0.98 ERA in four career appearances against Toronto.

Against the White Sox last Sunday, Shaun Marcum held the opposition to just a run on two hits over eight innings. The outing also marked the 15th time this year the righty has held his opponents scoreless for at least the first six innings of a game. Marcum, who was converted from a reliever to a starting pitcher back in May, has gone 6-2 with a 3.24 ERA over 15 starts this season. He's been a rather substantial reason why Toronto's pitchers posted a 3.40 ERA for the month of July, which was the best mark in the American League.

Sunday, 12:07 PM: Brandon McCarthy (5-7, 5.18) vs. Dustin McGowan (7-5, 4.36)
It finally happened for Brandon McCarthy. He turned in a very nice 6 2/3 innings of one run, four hit baseball this past week in Cleveland and managed to pick up his first win since way back on May 20th. Although McCarthy exited after having thrown just 90 pitches, the outing ended up being his longest of the 2007 season. He's 1-1 with a 6.00 ERA against the Blue Jays this season, but owns a 4.50 career ERA against them and has limited Toronto batters to a .216 batting average.

Dustin McGowan is the proud owner of a 1.78 ERA over his past three starts. He has logged 10 "quality starts" in his past 13 appearances, including this past week against the Devil Rays. In it, the Georgia native allowed just two runs on four hits over six innings of work before the Toronto bullpen let him down in the latter stages of the ballgame. July was kind to the 25-year old McGowan, who went 3-1 with a 2.78 ERA last month.

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