For the first time in franchise history, the Jays will entertain the Houston Astros when the National League team arrives this weekend for a three-game series and the first Interleague encounter of the season.
It will be just the second meeting between the teams in the regular season with the Astros sweeping a three-game series back in Houston in 2005.
Historically, the Jays have not fared well in Interleague play as their overall record sits at 115-132.
The Astros, though, are a team in the early stages of a rebuilding mode and have struggled through the opening quarter of the season.
They arrive in town on a five-game losing streak and sport the worst record in the National League at 15-29. They have lost 12 of their past 15.
The Astros have suffered from a leaky bullpen and have had trouble closing out games as they have 11 blown saves in 16 save situations.
Lately, their problem has been scoring runs.
“We don’t really have anybody on the team who’s red-hot right now,” second baseman Bill Hall said after Thursday’s loss. “If we get two or three guys hot and guys start catching on, hopefully we’ll turn around.”
Of interest to Jays fans will be the arrival of first baseman Brett Wallace, a once sought after prospect who last July was shipped to Houston for what general manager Alex Anthopoulos believes is a better one in centre fielder Anthony Gose.
While Wallace is performing at the major-league level, Gose is a few years away and playing at double-A New Hampshire.
In 42 games with the Astros, Wallace is hitting .312 (32-for-144) with three home runs and 12 RBIs.
The best known name on the Astros is left fielder Carlos Lee and for the Jays series the veteran slugger will line up as the designated hitter allowing backup outfielders Jason Michael and Brian Bogusevic some playing time.
This season, Lee is hitting .244 (38-for-158) with four homers and 22 RBIs.
“Any time you can get an opportunity to get some guys more at-bats and get some guys more playing time, that’s big,” manager Brad Mills said recently of his plans for the series. “Having Carlos DH is really nice. It will be nice when we start playing National League games again for those guys (Michael and Bogusevic) to have at-bats.”
Lee, meanwhile, has performed well in Interleague play as he has hit .279 with 34 home runs and 134 RBIs.
In the DH spot, he has played 75 games and has responded with 15 homers and 60 RBIs.