The Toronto Blue Jays were experiencing one of their most successful stretches of the season before a visit from a trio of hot Los Angeles Angels hitters.
Josh Hamilton, Kole Calhoun and Mark Trumbo will try to lead the Angels to their first series sweep of the Blue Jays in three years Thursday night.
Toronto (67-78) had won 10 of 13 before returning home, but the Angels (69-76) have cooled off the Blue Jays thus far.
Hamilton has three hits in each of the two games and went 3 for 3 with a run scored in a 5-4 victory Wednesday, Los Angeles' 11th in its last 13 road games. Calhoun hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the eighth inning and is the first Angels' player with at least one RBI in 14 of his past 15 starts.
"I'm playing free and starting to get into a good rhythm," Calhoun said.
Trumbo added a two-run homer - his career-high 33rd - after going 5 for 5 with five runs scored and a franchise record-tying four extra-base hits in a 12-6 win Tuesday. The first baseman is 13 for 29 (.448) with four homers in his last seven contests
While it's virtually too late to help the Angels reach the playoffs, Hamilton is closing his first season in Los Angeles well, batting .357 with 15 extra-base hits in his last 30 games.
The Angels, winners in 14 of 19 overall, are 5-1 against the Blue Jays this season but haven't swept a series from Toronto since April 16-18, 2010, at the Rogers Centre.
Garrett Richards (6-6, 3.90 ERA) will try to help his team accomplish that feat by earning a career-best third straight win. The right-hander has given up one earned run in each of his past two games and retired 14 of the final 17 batters he faced in his seven innings of an 8-3 victory over Texas on Saturday.
"I think he's kind of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel," pitching coach Mike Butcher told the team's website.
Richards gave up two runs and four hits over seven innings in his only start against Toronto this season, an 8-2 victory Aug. 1.
His counterpart in Thursday's game, J.A. Happ (4-5, 5.09) will try to build on a strong outing in his first matchup with Los Angeles. The left-hander gave up one unearned run over 5 2-3 innings in an 11-2 victory in Minnesota on Saturday after going 0-3 with a 7.71 ERA in his previous three outings.
"You want to finish strong. You want to remind these guys what you can do and prove to yourself what you can do," Happ said.
Hamilton is the Angels' only active player to get more than one hit off Happ, going 2 for 5 with a triple.
Edwin Encarnacion and Brett Lawrie are the two active Blue Jays with three or more hits off Richards, but Encarnacion has missed the past three games with a sprained wrist.
The Associated Press News Service
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