American League Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, April 8th (All times Eastern)
Houston Astros (3-4) at Toronto Blue Jays (3-4), 7:07 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Houston - Brett Oberholtzer (0-1, 4.76) Toronto - Mark Buehrle (1-0, 0.00)
(SportsNetwork.com) - Mark Buehrle tries to follow up a terrific season debut on Tuesday when the Toronto Blue Jays open a three-game set with the Houston Astros at Rogers Centre.
Buehrle turned back the clock on Wednesday against Tampa Bay, as the 35-year- old left-hander scattered four hits and struck out 11 over 8 2/3 scoreless innings to get the win.
Remarkably, it was only the second time in Buehrle's 15-year career he had double-digit strikeouts. It was a sharp contrast to his first few starts from a year ago which saw him allow at least five runs in five of his first seven outings.
"He was really good; he might have found the fountain of youth," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said in a half-joking manner. "He said all spring training long that he's felt the best he has felt in a long, long time."
Buehrle's fast start could continue, as he was 2-0 with a 0.53 ERA in two starts against Houston last season.
After taking two of three from the Rays to start the season, the Blue Jays dropped two of three to the New York Yankees and come into Tuesday's opener having lost three of their last four games.
The offense has been the main culprit, as the team is hitting just .196 (9- for-46) with runners in scoring position through seven games. Still, Toronto has hit eight homers accounting for 12 of its 22 runs thus far.
"We've got a few guys in our lineup that are cold right now," said Gibbons. "We've won a few games, gotten some pretty good pitching, so I'm optimistic (wins will come) once they get going. It shouldn't be that far off. Too many of them have proven themselves in the past."
That could be good news for 24-year-old lefty Brett Oberholtzer, who will be looking to bounce back from a loss to the Yankees his first time out. Oberholtzer gave up three runs and five hits in 5 2/3 innings of that one.
Houston has lost four of five since winning its first two games against the Yankees. On Monday the Astros were walloped by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 9-1, in the finale of a four-game set at Minute Maid Park.
The Astros are also off to a slow start at the plate this year, hitting .191 as a team through seven games. Nearly a quarter of their hits (10-of-41) have been home runs and they have nearly as many extra-base hits (20) as they do singles (21).
Monday's setback was also third time in the last four games that the team managed to push just one run across the plate.
Toronto was 4-3 against the Astros last season.
04/08 10:33:50 ET