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Inconsistent Blue Jays aim for familiar success vs. Guardians

After an impressive series victory against the AL Central-leading Cleveland Guardians, the Toronto Blue Jays have hit another rut.

Perhaps another weekend set with the Guardians, which starts Friday night in Cleveland, will end Toronto’s latest woes.

It’s been a frustrating campaign for the Blue Jays, who are four games under .500, have dealt with various injuries and continue to struggle at the plate — batting .233 and slugging just .365. Toronto, though, scored 12 runs to win the final two of last weekend’s three-game home set with the Guardians.

However, the Blue Jays managed just three runs in each loss as they were swept in a three-game series by the visiting Boston Red Sox earlier this week.

It marked the first time Toronto was swept this season, one that has seen the Blue Jays endure five losing streaks of at least three games.

“It seems like we’re kind of stuck on neutral there when we get close,” Toronto manager John Schneider said.

Blue Jays star Vladimir Guerrero Jr. had four hits across the last two games versus Cleveland but went 2-for-13 against Boston.

Guerrero had a hit last Saturday against Carlos Carrasco, who will start Friday’s game for the Guardians.

Carrasco (2-6, 5.80 ERA) hopes to fare better against the Blue Jays after taking the loss in Cleveland’s 5-0 setback on Saturday in Toronto.

The veteran right-hander allowed all five runs on six hits over five innings. He fell to 0-2 with a 7.90 ERA in three starts since coming off a short injured-list stint with neck spasms. He is 4-2 with a 5.06 ERA in 10 games (nine starts) against the Blue Jays in his career.

“He stepped up and gave us five innings, but it definitely wasn’t the sharpest he’s been,” Guardians manager Stephen Vogt said of Carrasco, who also reportedly hurt his ankle but stayed in the game.

Carrasco looks to help Cleveland record a third consecutive win after it snapped a three-game skid by taking the final two of a three-game home set with the AL West-leading Seattle Mariners this week.

Steven Kwan reached base twice and scored on Andres Gimenez’s two-run, go-ahead homer in the fifth inning of the Guardians’ 6-3 win over the Mariners on Thursday.

Kwan is amid a 25-game on-base streak and has hit .500 (27-for-54) over his current 14-game hit streak after missing nearly a month with a strained hamstring. He went 8-for-13 at Toronto last weekend.

Meanwhile, teammate Will Brennan homered twice Thursday. He’s 10-for-24 with three home runs in his past six games, and looks forward to another shot at the Blue Jays, this time at home, where the Guardians are 23-9.

“It’s gonna be huge,” Brennan told Bally Sports Cleveland about the series. “I think we do really well at home, and we can’t wait for the Cleveland fans to show out.”

Though Toronto has yet to officially name a starting pitcher for Friday, it’s been reported that Yariel Rodriguez (0-1, 4.11 ERA) could be ready to return for a minor league rehab stint and make his fifth career start. The right-hander landed on the injured list April 30 with a back issue. He has never faced the Guardians.

Meanwhile, prized Blue Jays prospect Orelvis Martinez is slated to make his anticipated major league debut at some point in this series after recording 16 homers and an .866 OPS in 63 games with Triple-A Buffalo this season.

“I’ve been working very hard,” Martinez said through a translator.

“I’m here now and I’m just trying to show them what I’m capable of doing.”

–Field Level Media

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