When the Blue Jays and Rangers began a series on Thursday at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Toronto had not swept a series longer than two games all season and was 12-19 on the road. Texas had not been swept at home, while going 19-10.
But baseball is an unpredictable business, and so on Sunday afternoon, the Blue Jays will go for a four-game sweep, their first since last April 20-23 in Kansas City. A team struggling for much of the season suddenly has won four straight and seven of nine.
With Josh Johnson pushed back due to a blister on his right middle finger, the Blue Jays will turn to Chien-Ming Wang. The veteran right-hander originally was scheduled to pitch Monday, but he is going on normal rest after making his season debut on Tuesday against the White Sox.
The 33-year-old had a 2.33 ERA with the Yankees' Triple-A affiliate before he was released and signed by the Blue Jays. Wang surrendered five runs on 10 hits against the White Sox, but he gave manager John Gibbons 7 1/3 innings.
"He started pitching really well when he started using his breaking ball," Gibbons said afterward. "Early in the game, he was a one-pitch guy. I even told him, 'When you were back with the Yankees, you were throwing in the mid-90s, and it's a different look. Now you've got to pitch a little more.' When he started doing that with the curveball and the changeup, totally different guy."
The struggling Rangers will counter with Derek Holland as they try to avoid a sixth consecutive loss and 14th in their last 20 games. Texas last dropped six straight in April 2010.
"My job is to go out and make pitches and let the defense make plays," Holland said. "It's not about what I've done against a team in the past or if I'm the losing-streak stopper. My job is to pitch and do the best I can."
Holland (5-3, 3.11 ERA) is 0-1 with a 5.23 ERA in June after a stellar May. The Rangers have lost both of his outings this month, including Tuesday's against Cleveland. The left-hander went 4 1/3 innings, his shortest outing of the year, and gave up four runs for his first loss since April 27.
"The main thing is to go out there and get back into the swing of things," Holland said. "Overall I felt fine in my last start, I just missed a couple of spots and some hits fell in. But I'm prepared and ready to go, it just comes down to execution."
Blue Jays: Arencibia ready to bust out?
J.P. Arencibia didn't start behind the plate on Saturday, as Josh Thole caught knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. The Blue Jays will hope the day off doesn't stall any progress Arencibia made on Friday, when he cracked his first home run since May 27.
Arencibia came into that game hitting .211, following a 3-for-45 skid. His OPS had tumbled to .650 after being at .809 through May 6, but it's possible that Friday's homer could kick the streaky Arencibia into gear.
"Hopefully it gets him going. He's overdue," Gibbons said.
Rangers: Kinsler back, Profar stays
The Rangers called up top prospect Jurickson Profar when Ian Kinsler went on the disabled list on May 19. But when Kinsler returned to the team's lineup on Saturday, Profar remained with the club, which optioned Leury Garcia to Triple-A Round Rock.
Kinsler led off and played second base in his return. With no everyday spot open, the 20-year-old Profar will back up at second, third and short. He also could see some time in the outfield, playing up to 3-4 times per week.
"We're trying to win games," general manager Jon Daniels said. "We're trying to put the best club out there, give [manager Ron Washington] options. We're a little banged up and not playing as well as we're capable of. We're going to try to keep our best roster up here in the big leagues. It'll play itself out, I'm confident in that."
• This will be the teams' final meeting of the regular season. The Blue Jays have won five of the first six.
• Wang hasn't started at Rangers Ballpark since 2006.