Series Preview: Toronto Blue Jays

The Toronto Blue Jays are the hottest team in baseball. They have 17 wins in their last 23 games, but a pair of those losses have come at the hands of the <!--Default For Chicago is to ignore-->Chicago White Sox. The Jays are hitting a scorching .291 from the dish.

Opponent: Toronto Blue Jays
Record: 27-24, .529, 4 GB (AL East)
Place: SkyDome
Time & TV: Game 1: 7:05 p.m. (Fox Sports Chi./ESPN2); Game 2: 7:05 p.m. (Fox Sports Chi.); Game 3: 7:05 p.m. (Fox Sports Chi.); Game 4: 7:05 p.m. (WCIU)
2002 Record vs Sox: 2-4
2003 Record vs Sox: 1-2

They are led by Carlos Delgado (.326) and Sox-killer Frank Catalanotto (.319) at the plate. The Blue Jays lead the AL in runs, OBP, OPS, hits and RBIs on offense, and lead the AL in strikeouts. The pitching rotation is led by Roy Halladay (5-2, 4.36), and the bullpen is headed by Doug Linton and Cliff Politte (8 SVs). The Jays lead the league in hits allowed and have not yet pitched a shutout. Toronto is also tied for the lowest fielding percentage in the AL.

WHO'S HOT (Last 7 Days)
Carlos Delgado, 1B: .370, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 4 2B, 7 R
--Delgado has been on a tear. He has been a free-swinger lately, and he has not missed. His hot hitting over the last seven days has put him in the league lead for home runs, RBIs, walks, OBP and OPS.

WHO'S NOT (Last 7 Days)
Chris Woodward, SS: .077, 1 hit in 13 at-bats, 6 K's
--Woodward has been hampered by a sore shoulder as of late, and was one of the few non-producers in the Toronto sweep of the New York Yankees.

Game #1:
Mark Buehrle (2-7, 5.19, 29 K) vs. Mark Hendrickson (4-4, 5.37, 25 K)
--Hendrickson has been one of Toronto's most dependable starters as of late, holding opponents to four runs or less in each of his last four starts. However, opponents are batting .309 off him and his strikeout numbers have steadily decreased since striking out seven against the Minnesota Twins.

Game #2:
Bartolo Colon (5-3, 3.61, 45 K) vs. Roy Halladay (5-2, 4.36, 57 K)
--Halladay was the Blue Jay ace coming into this year and has proved so far that he can be a consistent starter. He leads the Jays in strikeouts and has went seven innings or more in his last five starts, and in seven of his eleven starts. Halladay, however, has been prone to the longball. He has also given up two or more runs in every start.

Game #3:
Jon Garland (2-4, 5.70, 22 K) vs. Kelvim Escobar (2-1, 6.04, 30 K)
--Escobar has been moved all over the Jays staff. He received his first win as a starter on May 23 against the Yankees, and he also has four saves. Opponents are batting .299 against Escobar, and he has steadily lowered his ERA since the beginning of the season. He is 1-0 with one save and an ERA of 1.20 in May.

Game #4:
Esteban Loaiza (7-2, 1.92, 53 K) vs. Cory Lidle (8-2, 4.42, 50 K)
--Sox-killer Cory Lidle has been Toronto's hottest pitcher this year, and he now leads the AL in wins with eight. He has won his last six decisions and has lowered his ERA from above six. In his last two starts he has pitched 17 innings, only giving up 4 runs. He is starting to give up home runs again, and has allowed numerous runs in every start. If the Sox can get another strong performance from Loaiza, Lidle can be beat.

Hit the ball. The Sox have had good pitching performances wasted against the Detroit Tigers because they could not get the bat on the ball. If the Sox can just manufacture some runs, they can come out of this series with a win or a split.

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