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Series Preview: Partying like it’s 1993

The Blue Jays are currently being overshadowed by the NBA champions, Toronto Raptors. However, their parade will likely help bring some cheerful fans into the Rogers Centre during the opener of this four-game series. It also helps that the Blue Jays’ bats finally woke up in their finale against the Astros.

The team that shared their stadium with the Raptors for many years, recorded five home runs last game against the Astros. This Angels pitching staff has surrendered the 5th-most home runs in the AL so far this month. Which means there should be a lot of souvenirs for the celebrating fans in the stands.

Monday at 7:07 ET

Surprisingly, Edwin Jackson was actually able to earn a victory even with his remaining days numbered with the Blue Jays. The German-born pitcher pitched five-innings against the Orioles, and gave up a season-low four hits and two runs. This was also the first-time the Blue Jays used an opener in front of Jackson this season, and it may have actually helped him be more effective in this start.

However, Jackson was going against an awful Trash Birds lineup, that currently creates little to no offense. Which can’t be said about this Angels lineup. They have recorded the 3rd-highest OPS in the AL so far this month, and they have also hit the 3rd-most home runs in AL this month as well. So while Jackson’s last start was encouraging, we’ll likely witness him getting blown up by the Angels in this game.

Luis Garcia will be the start as the opener for the Angels in this game. The 32-year-old currently owns 4.68 ERA only with 17 strikeouts through 25 innings of work this season. The Angels will likely follow Garcia up with Felix Pena out of the bullpen.

Pena went three and 2/3 innings last time out against the Dodgers, and gave up six hits along with a pair of solo home runs. The Blue Jays will need to be aggressive at the plate once Pena enters, as he’s given up three home runs over his last three outings.

Tuesday at 7:07 ET

Stro-Show was back to his usual self in his latest-start against the Orioles. Stroman went six-innings and gave up seven hits, but just one earned run along with creating five strikeouts. However, Stroman’s ground-ball to fly-ball totals were the most-encouraging thing coming into this start against the Angels.

The longest-tenured player on this team recorded more ground-balls than fly-balls in his last start against the Orioles. Stroman is most-effective when he creates a lot of ground-balls, which is why he was lit up in his start against the Diamondbacks. The Angels currently hit into more double-plays than any other team in the league. Which is something Stroman will have to take advantage to be successful in this game.

Tyler Skaggs made the Blue Jays want to tear out all their amazing hair in his start against them last month. The 27-year-old pitched six-innings and gave up just four hits, two runs and recorded five strikeouts. The Blue Jays’ hitters went a miserable two-for-ten with RISP in that same game against Skaggs.

However, Skaggs has been ineffective at attacking the strike zone over his last two starts. Skaggs has awarded free passes to first-base six times over his last two starts. Which means the Blue Jays’ hitters will need to create a lot of deep counts in this game, in order to get Skaggs out of this game early on.

Wednesday at 7:07 ET

Aaron Sanchez has been a mystery no one’s been able to crack so far this season. His latest-start against the Astros was easily his worst-game of the season. Sanchez threw 69 pitches in just three-innings, and surrendered six hits, eight runs, two home runs along with a trio of walks. We’re through 15 starts with Sanchez so far this season, and we still have yet to witness any consistent success with the former ERA title winner from three seasons ago.

Fastball command is something that Sanchez has struggled with all season-long. Sanchez’s fastball has either been smacked in the upper-half of the strike zone, or forgotten about way below the zone. The Angels currently rank 4th in the AL in SLG % so far this month, which means Sanchez could be chased from this game very early if he leaves his fastball up in the zone once again.

Andrew Heaney will be making his first-start north of the border in game three of this series. The 28-year-old from Oklahoma City will likely be making his first-trip ever up to Canada during this series. Heaney has been virtually perfect in his four-starts since being activated off the IL.

Heaney held those awful Orioles to just a pair of hits and one run through five-innings of work in his latest-start. While Heaney has given up six home runs through his four-starts this season, he has also created an impressive 30 strikeouts and only walked six batters. So with the amount of times this Blue Jays lineup goes down on strikes, they will likely need to record their runs via the long-ball in this game.

Thursday at 7:07 ET

Clayton Richard was absolutely awful again in his latest-start against the Astros. Despite having one of the best-smiles in the league, the Astros lineup was still able to lit Richard up for seven hits on five runs in just five-innings.

The 35-year-old was probably luck to get through five-innings with the way he was being hit around Minute Maid Park. The baseball probably looked like a squeezed orange following that game, as five of the seven hits that Richard gave up went for extra-bases. Richard has surrendered a combined 14 hits over his last two starts, reducing the amount of hits surrendered will likely be something that won’t change during the finale of this series.

Jose Suarez will be making just his fourth career-start at the major-league level in this game. Luckily for the Blue Jays, the rookie from Venezuela is coming off of his best-start of his young career. Last time out against the Rays, Suarez went five and 2/3 innings, and held their lineup to three runs and just a single walk.

The 21-year-old was the most-efficient he’s ever been in the majors. Suarez was able to pitch 5.2 innings on 81 pitches. Pitching deep into games and finding the strike zone have been major problems for Suarez through his three starts this season. The Blue Jays’ lineup will need to find a way to be less-aggressive at the plate in this game. In order for them to put themselves in good hitters counts throughout this game.