MLB

Angels-Blue Jays Preview

R.A. Dickey is at a loss when trying to explain the reason for his current rough stretch with the struggling Toronto Blue Jays.

The right-hander hopes he'll have an answer in time to avoid losing a third straight start Thursday night against a visiting Los Angeles Angels team that could be without Albert Pujols.

Despite going 0-1 in his first two starts, Dickey (1-5, 5.76 ERA) posted a 2.19 ERA and didn't allow a home run. However, his knuckleball hasn't been sharp while going 1-4 with a 6.93 ERA and yielding nine homers in the last six.

"Truth of the matter is, I'm searching right now," he told MLB's official website. "Searching for answers, searching for consistency of (movement)."

Since allowing a run over eight innings of a 3-1 win over the New York Yankees on May 4, Dickey has been tagged for 13 runs and 17 hits over 11 innings in his last two starts. He served up two homers in each of them.

"I'm not able to execute," said the 40-year-old Dickey, whose 94 home runs allowed since 2012 are the most in baseball. "It's been the longest where I haven't had the consistent movement that I'd like. I've had stretches like this before, and I'm confident it's going to turn."

Perhaps against the Angels (21-19), whom Dickey held to four hits over seven innings of a 4-0 victory in his only matchup with them in 2014.

Albert Pujols is 0 for 8 versus Dickey and might sit out after suffering a hand contusion from being hit by a pitch in Wednesday's 4-3 victory. Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto sent a text after the game that X-rays were negative.

"He's OK," Dipoto texted. "He'll be day to day with a bruised hand."

Pujols is batting only .231 with seven homers and 15 RBIs.

Marc Krauss, who replaced Pujols, hit a go-ahead two-run double in the seventh to help Los Angeles win for the 10th time in 14 contests. Krauss is 2 for 16 since being called up May 12, but he's 3 for 8 with two doubles and a home run against Dickey.

The Blue Jays (18-24) have dropped nine of 11 and are 2-8 in one-run contests. They've been held to five runs and nine hits in back-to-back losses after pounding out 17 hits in Monday's 10-6 series-opening victory.

"We're just in a little rough patch right now," manager John Gibbons said. "But these are our guys and we'll ride it out with them."

Sluggers Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion are a combined 0 for 12 after totaling five hits Monday.

They'll look to break out against Matt Shoemaker (3-3, 5.63), who gave up fewer than three runs for the first time in seven starts last time out. The right-hander allowed a homer but only two other hits and struck out seven without a walk in seven innings of a 6-1 victory at Baltimore on Saturday.

"I felt like I was almost casual the last few starts, not in my attack aggressive mode, (not) making quality pitches," he said. "I need to have that bulldog mentality that I usually have."

Shoemaker is 7-0 with a 3.00 ERA in his last nine starts on the road - all Angels victories. He's never pitched in Toronto but did win his only appearance against the Blue Jays despite allowing two runs and five hits over 3 2-3 innings of relief July 7 in a 5-2 victory.

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