Blue Jays-Angels Preview
Mike Trout is the reigning AL MVP but Josh Donaldson is making a serious run at that title this year.
After being serenaded with "M-V-P!" chants in Trout's home park, Donaldson looks to put on another hitting display as the red-hot Toronto Blue Jays go for a sweep of this three-game series with the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday.
Trout's 33 homers and 72 RBIs are among baseball's leaders, but Donaldson has surpassed them with career highs of 34 homers and 100 RBIs, the first major leaguer to reach that total this season.
"The last week or so, I feel like every time I come up, I have somebody in scoring position," Donaldson said. "It means a lot, especially the last couple of years when I've been right around (100 RBIs) and haven't been able to get it."
The All-Star third baseman is hitting .369 with 10 homers and 32 RBIs during Toronto's 18-4 stretch that's put it within one-half game of the AL East-leading New York Yankees.
Donaldson has been particularly devastating in leading the Blue Jays (68-55) to wins in the first two games of this series, going 6 for 8 with four extra-base hits and nine RBIs. He went 4 for 5 and fell a triple shy of the cycle Saturday, connecting for a three-run homer and totaling a career-high six RBIs in a 15-3 victory.
Donaldson is hitting .440 with two homers and 12 RBIs in six season meetings with Los Angeles (63-60).
Trout, meanwhile, is 3 for 24 with one RBI in the last eight games after going 0 for 6 with four strikeouts in the first two of this series.
Albert Pujols is also struggling, batting .182 in his past nine contests.
''If we're just waiting for Mike and Albert (Pujols) to do this, it's not going to happen,'' manager Mike Scioscia said. ''You cannot put every offensive woe that we have on Mike and Albert, because we have to be more than Mike and Albert. And we feel we are.''
Scioscia's team has lost nine of 13 to fall one-half game behind Texas for the second wild-card spot.
''Right now we have to, in house, circle our wagons and get our game in order,'' Scioscia said. ''We haven't pitched well this series, and on the offensive side, we're still waiting. We have to do some things better on the mound ... (and) we need to start swinging the bats, too.''
The Angels hope Garrett Richards (12-9, 3.50 ERA) can slow down Donaldson after holding him to 1 for 6 last year.
Richards leads the team in wins and is one shy of his career high from last year, when his season ended in August after tearing the patellar tendon in his left knee.
The right-hander is 8-3 with a 2.53 ERA in 12 home starts. He allowed three runs - two earned - in seven innings of a 5-3 win over the visiting Chicago White Sox on Tuesday.
Richards is 2-1 with a 4.32 ERA in four career starts against the Blue Jays, winning the only one at home by allowing two runs in seven innings of an 8-2 victory Aug. 1, 2013.
The Jays counter with R.A. Dickey (7-10, 4.14), who is trying to get back on track after giving up five runs and nine hits in four innings before leaving without a decision in an 8-5 win at Philadelphia on Tuesday.
The knuckleballer went 4-0 with a 1.49 ERA over his six previous starts, completing at least seven innings in four.
Dickey has won his last two starts against the Angels behind a 2.25 ERA. He tossed a five-hitter in an 8-4 home victory May 21.
Trout is 3 for 8 with two doubles off him.