Nationals Hope to Salvage One Win in Toronto Print
Saturday, 16 June 2007 19:32
MLB Headline News

Canada Causing Problems

The Washington Nationals entered their three-game interleague series against the Toronto Blue Jays as one of the hottest road teams in baseball. Now, they're just hoping to leave Canada with one win.

The Nationals close a nine-game road trip looking to avoid a sweep against the Blue Jays on Sunday.

Washington (29-39) won 10 of its 12 road games from May 22-June 14. In that stretch, the Nationals averaged 6.3 runs while batting .298 as a team - dramatic improvements over their 3.1 runs per game and .222 team batting average prior to their surge.

Oddsmakers have made Toronto -160 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 10 total runs (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 69% of bets for this game have been placed on Toronto -160 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

But its offense cooled down in the first two games against Toronto (33-34), getting outscored 14-5 while batting .231 as a team. The Nationals fell to 5-3 entering the final game of their nine-game road trip following a 7-3 loss on Saturday.

The defeat denied them a chance to extend their run of four straight winning series on the road.

The Blue Jays, meanwhile, are 11-4 at home since May 14. They faltered with back-to-back losses against Tampa Bay in their last two home games June 6-7, but appear to be back on track after opening their nine-game homestand against the Nationals.

Vernon Wells is 5-for-8 in the series after delivering two hits and a season-high four RBIs in Saturday's win. His third-inning home run was his first since May 20 - a stretch of 87 at-bats without a homer for the center fielder who signed a seven-year, $126-million contract extension in the offseason.

"It felt really good," Wells said. "When I hit it, I looked at the ball and said 'Man, I haven't seen a ball fly off my bat like that for a while.'"

Wells is batting .349 with nine home runs and 17 RBIs in 23 career games against the Washington franchise.

"Last couple of days, he's been swinging it," manager John Gibbons said. "He's big for our team, no question."

Josh Towers (2-4, 5.31 ERA) will take the mound for the Blue Jays. The right-hander has lost his last three starts, including his only start since a one-month stint in the Toronto bullpen. Towers gave up four runs in four innings to lose a 4-3 decision at San Francisco on Monday.

He is 2-2 with a 2.73 ERA in four career starts against the Washington franchise, but is winless with a 6.10 ERA in two starts against the team since it moved from Montreal before the 2005 season.

The Nationals will counter with left-hander Micah Bowie (3-2, 3.89), who has adjusted well to his new role as a starter. Since entering the rotation, Bowie is 3-0 with a 4.01 ERA. He has won three of his last four outings, including a 7-4 victory over Baltimore on Tuesday in which he held the Orioles to three runs and three hits in six innings.

"To go from being a short reliever to being a starter and to be effective at this level, well, it's something," Bowie said. "If I can keep us in the game and we can keep getting wins, I'm doing my job."

Bowie will be making his first appearance against the Blue Jays, who are hitting .283 against left-handers.

by: Dave Michaels - thespread.com – Email Us

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