Angels-Blue Jays Preview
TORONTO -- The Toronto Blue Jays are among the remaining major league clubs that can still say team goals are the priority and really mean it.
It is different for the Los Angeles Angels, who are last in the American League West despite an 8-2 win over the Blue Jays on Wednesday night.
They have split the first two games of a three-game series with the rubber game on Thursday at Rogers Centre.
Toronto could get a boost with Jose Bautista back in the lineup and batting leadoff. Bautista was activated from the disabled list Thursday, and will be monitored closely in his first game since Aug. 9. Bautista, who also missed almost six weeks with a previous DL stint this summer, twisted his left knee while attempting to make a throw from right field.
The Blue Jays remained tied for the American League East lead because the Boston Red Sox also lost, 4-3 in 11 innings to the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday.
So when starter Marco Estrada was asked about his state of mind after having his second straight poor outing, he could say: "We're still in first, I mean we're up there, so as long as we keep winning games, I'm going to be just as happy as everybody else is.
"Obviously, it's not something I want to keep doing. My last two outings haven't gone well. Things happen."
Despite allowing six runs in five innings on Wednesday, Estrada knows he is pitching for a team that has a chance to repeat as AL East champions.
In the Angels' clubhouse, the emphasis was on an individual achievement, more than a team goal.
Albert Pujols hit his 24th homer of the season and the 584th of his career in the first inning after Mike Trout hit his 24th homer of the season.
Pujols moved past Mark McGwire into 10th place on the career home run list. He is two homers from tying Frank Robinson for ninth. A few dingers Thursday would do that. His next RBI will give him 100 for the season for the 13th time in his career. Chances are better that he does that Thursday.
Pujols did not talk to the media after the game, but others did.
"That's pretty special," Trout said. "Obviously, he and McGwire were teammates, they know each other well. It's pretty special for him.
"He's done it his whole career. He hasn't shown any signs of slowing down. He's still putting up numbers, still driving in 100. It's fun to watch, for sure."
"We're happy for him and hopefully he keeps doing that," said Matt Shoemaker, the winning pitcher. "Albert will probably pass a few more of those guys, hopefully all of them."
The Blue Jays have left-hander J.A. Happ (17-3, 3.05 ERA) going Thursday and the Angels will start right-hander Jered Weaver (8-11, 5.47).
Happ is going for his 12th straight win in his past 13 starts, but he is 0-4 with an 8.00 ERA in four career starts against the Angels.
On the other hand, Weaver, who has struggled this season, has had success in his career against the Blue Jays.
In 13 career starts against them, he is 10-2 with a 3.42 ERA. In four starts against Toronto since 2013, he is 3-0 with a 2.74 ERA. He is 4-1 with a 4.22 ERA in five career starts at Rogers Centre.
The Blue Jays said they were not taking the Angels lightly in this series. The results on Wednesday showed why they can't afford to do so.
"I choose to be optimistic and look forward," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "It was one of those games where they outplayed us in every phase. It's not the first one, it won't be the last."