Two veteran lefties having All-Star seasons for playoff contenders will battle it out on Saturday at O.co Coliseum, as the A's take on the Blue Jays in the third game of a four-game set.
For the A's it will be Scott Kazmir, who is 9-3 with a 2.61 ERA this season. Kazmir is also 5-1 with a 1.61 ERA at home -- the second-lowest home ERA in the American League. He will be vying for his 10th win before the All-Star Break, a mark he has reached only once, in 2006.
Kazmir exited his last start in Detroit with a left calf cramp after 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball, but he appears to be fine. The cramp was likely just a result of the humidity during the game.
The A's, who are 20-6 in their last 26 home games, are happy to be back on the West Coast until the All-Star break. After the Toronto series, they will play a four-game home-and-home against the Giants, followed by a three-game series in Seattle.
The Blue Jays' Mark Buehrle will oppose Kazmir on Saturday. Buehrle is 10-5 with a 2.50 ERA in 2014, but he hasn't won a game in over a month. He last won on June 1, and is 0-4 since, although he has pitched solidly in that stretch.
In his last start, Buehrle lost to the White Sox despite giving up just two runs in eight innings, the second of which came on a home run by Moises Sierra. After the game, Buehrle, who is known for his impeccable command, expressed frustration at allowing the free-swinging Sierra to take him deep.
"Sierra of all people, knowing that guy chases a lot," Buehrle said. "I threw a changeup pretty much right down the middle. It's frustrating because you know you don't have to throw much in the strike zone and I pretty much teed one up for him."
Buehrle has given up a homer in five straight starts, which coincides exactly with his 0-4 stretch.
A's: Donaldson back in lineup after two days' rest
Josh Donaldson was batting fifth and playing third base against the Blue Jays on Friday after missing the previous two games due to back stiffness.
Manager Bob Melvin said Donaldson felt good after taking batting practice in the cage Friday morning.
"I just wanted to talk to him before and see how he feels this morning," said Melvin. "There's no issues."
Donaldson has started all but five of Oakland's 86 games this season, and while Melvin is certainly happy to have his slugger healthy, he thought Donaldson could benefit from some rest before the All-Star break, anyway.
"We have quite a few guys that have been out there a little bit more than I'm comfortable with," Melvin said. "It's nice to be able to give some guys some days off, especially with the [upcoming] stretch."
Donaldson has 18 home runs and 61 RBIs, putting him on pace to shatter his 2013 totals of 24 homers and 93 RBIs.
He went 1-for-5 with a strikeout on Friday.
Blue Jays: Cecil activated, Gose optioned to Minors
Left-hander Brett Cecil was activated from the 15-day disabled list prior to Friday afternoon's game against the A's.
Cecil's recovery from a strained groin went about as well as could be expected. He missed the minimum 15 days and made a pair of rehab appearances with Triple-A Buffalo prior to re-joining his club.
With Cecil not having missed much time, the Blue Jays don't seem too concerned about easing him back into middle relief. He'll be called upon when the need presents itself.
"We'll pick our spots, if it's something where we need him, he lines up good with somebody over there, we'll use him regardless," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.
Cecil face two batters in the 10th inning Friday, coaxing a groundout from Nick Punto and walking Coco Crisp.
To make room for Cecil on the 25-man roster, outfielder Anthony Gose was optioned to the Minor Leagues. That left Toronto with a starting outfield of Melky Cabrera, Darin Mastroianni and Brad Glenn.
• A's pitchers reached 653 strikeouts after Thursday's series opener, setting a franchise record for strikeouts before the All-Star break. Their previous record was 650, set last year.
• With their loss Thursday, the Blue Jays fell out of sole possession of first place in the AL East for the first time since May 21, dropping behind the Orioles on percentage points.
David Adler is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.