The Toronto Blue Jays pitching staff seems to have found a solution to the Los Angeles Angels this weekend, and they will try to keep their offense quiet again in the finale of their four-game series Sunday afternoon at Angel Stadium.
After giving up eight runs in the series-opening loss on Thursday, the Blue Jays have limited Los Angeles to a combined three runs over the past two games.
Toronto (35-41) has been especially tough on Mike Trout, the best hitter for the Angels, who is 1-for-9 in the series with six strikeouts to drop his average to .327.
Luis Valbuena’s third home run of the series in the eighth inning tied the score at 1-1 and ended a scoreless streak of 14 innings for the Angels (41-36), who saw a three-game winning streak stopped.
Steve Pearce answered with a three-run homer in the top of the ninth for Toronto, his second game back after missing seven weeks with an oblique strain.
The starting pitchers for the series finale opened their seasons in the bullpen.
The only difference is Toronto right-hander Sam Gaviglio had experience as a major-league starter last season, while Felix Pena made his first major-league start earlier this week for Los Angeles.
Gaviglio (2-2, 3.75 ERA) will make his seventh straight start after originally moving into the rotation when Marcus Stroman went down with shoulder fatigue in mid-May.
Stroman returned Saturday night and threw five shutout innings, but fellow starters Aaron Sanchez (right finger contusion) and Jaime Garcia (sore left shoulder) were placed on the 10-day disabled list on Saturday, opening the door for Gaviglio to remain in the rotation.
Gaviglio threw seven shutout innings in a 3-0 loss to the New York Yankees on June 6 but hasn’t gone past the fourth inning in his past two outings.
He allowed three runs (two earned) and six hits in four innings on Sunday against the visiting Washington Nationals, but due to official scoring rules, he was ineligible for the win in the 8-6 victory that completed a three-game sweep.
Since his last start, Gaviglio also spent three days on the paternity list to be with his wife, Alaina, for the birth to their first child on Tuesday, a girl.
Gaviglio has made one appearance against the Angels in his career, allowing three runs and five hits in 6 1/3 innings as a member of the Seattle Mariners last July. The Mariners lost 4-0 and he was traded to the Kansas City Royals later that month.
“He’s never going to wow you with his stuff, but he’s a pretty good pitcher,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons told the Toronto Sun after Gaviglio’s latest start.
Pena (0-0, 5.40) made 38 career relief appearances before making his first start on Tuesday against the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks.
Pena allowed one run and two hits in four innings and Los Angeles won 5-4 to end a three-game losing streak.
“Starting isn’t the same as relieving, but I didn’t feel any different,” Pena told MLB.com following his starting debut.
Pena’s only experience against Toronto came when he struck out the side while with the Cincinnati Reds last August.