With their struggles continuing in their first game after the All-Star break, the Blue Jays will look to Marcus Stroman to even the series against the Rangers Saturday afternoon at Rogers Centre.
The Blue Jays are 2-9 in their last 11 games and have lost three straight games. Toronto dropped Friday's series opener, 5-1, with starter R.A. Dickey giving up all five runs in his seven innings.
"We have to play good for a few weeks, consistently," manager John Gibbons said of his injury-depleted club, which has fallen to just one game over .500, at 49-48, after a long stretch atop the American League East. "We need to do that. We're still in this thing. It can go one way or another."
On Saturday, the Blue Jays hope Stroman, who is coming off a start in which he gave up six runs in 3 2/3 innings against the Angels, can do better than Dickey fared Friday. The rookie right-hander is 4-2 with a 4.05 ERA this season.
The Rangers, who are struggling mightily themselves -- they are in last place in the AL West at 39-57 -- will counter Stroman with right-hander Colby Lewis.
Lewis is 6-6 with a 6.54 ERA. Like Stroman's, Lewis' last start came against the Angels -- the day after Stroman's, in fact -- and Lewis got shelled twice as hard as Stroman did, giving up 13 runs in just 2 1/3 innings.
Blue Jays: Mills added as long man in bullpen
The Blue Jays on Friday optioned reliever Chad Jenkins to Triple-A Buffalo to make room on the roster for lefty Brad Mills, who was claimed off waivers from the A's.
Mills, a fourth-round selection in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, will be the long man out of the Blue Jays' bullpen, Gibbons said prior to Friday's game against the Rangers.
That means Todd Redmond will be moved out of the role.
"We'll give Redmond a little more work," said Gibbons. "We'll get him in some tougher situations and see what he does."
Mills made his big league debut for the Blue Jays in 2009, but he has moved around a bit in recent seasons. He was traded to the Angels in 2011 and claimed off waivers by the Rangers last season. Texas released Mills on July 18 of last season.
Mills has a career record of 4-4 with a 6.98 ERA in the Major Leagues. He signed with Milwaukee before this season and pitched to a 4-2 record and a 1.56 ERA for Triple-A Nashville. Mills was then acquired by Oakland for cash considerations in June, and he went 1-1 with a 4.41 ERA for the A's.
Rangers: Ex-Jay Arencibia makes his return to Toronto
Rangers first baseman/catcher J.P. Arencibia returned to Toronto as an opposing player for the first time for Texas series' opener against the Blue Jays.
He made it count, blasting a three-run homer in the seventh inning off R.A. Dickey that blew open the game, pushing a 2-0 lead to 5-0.
Arencibia, who had his contract purchased from Triple-A Round Rock on Thursday, had an up-and-down ride with the Blue Jays, who selected him in the first round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. The Blue Jays non-tendered Arencibia in the offseason after he spent parts of four seasons with the club before he signed with Texas.
"This is where it all started for me," Arencibia said. "I have a lot of memories. This is home for me. It was home for me for a long time. I spent a lot of hours in this dome, in this city. It's different to come back, but I'm excited to be back."
Arencibia became an instant fan favorite in Toronto after going 4-for-5 with two home runs in his Major League debut at Rogers Centre back in August 2010. His relationship with the fan base strengthened due to his active community work, but took a downward turn as a result of his struggling play in 2013 -- he hit .194 with a .227 on-base percentage -- and well-documented social media and radio spats with Toronto reporters.
• Toronto has won six of its last seven series against the Rangers in Toronto, but the Blue Jays will have to win their next two games to make it seven of eight.
• Despite being on the DL, Toronto's Edwin Encarnacion became just the seventh player in MLB history to record 25-plus HRs/70-plus RBIs prior to the All-Star break in consecutive seasons, and the first since Alex Rodriguez and Lance Berkman did it in 2001-2002.
• Shin-Soo Choo will not play the outfield at all during the Rangers' three-game series in Toronto, manager Ron Washington said. Choo served as the club's designated hitter Friday and is likely to get a day off so third baseman Adrian Beltre can get a game at DH.
David Adler is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.