Rasmus set to make Jays debut

Colby Rasmus is expected to make his debut for the Toronto Blue Jays as they conclude this three-game series with the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday night.

The Toronto Blue Jays are hoping to be at full strength, but having at least Colby Rasmus in the line-up may be what they're looking for.

Rasmus is expected to make his debut for the Blue Jays as they conclude this three-game series with the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday night.

Ramus was pencilled into the No. 2 spot in the batting order behind Yunel Escobar and will play centre-field on Thursday.

Toronto (52-52) revamped its roster by making a three-team trade with St. Louis and the White Sox before Wednesday's 3-0 win over Baltimore (41-59).

The Blue Jays sent right-hander Jason Frasor and minor league righty Zach Stewart to Chicago for right-hander Edwin Jackson and utility man Mark Teahen. Toronto then packaged Jackson, outfielder Corey Patterson, right-hander Octavio Dotel and left-hander Marc Rzepczynski to the Cardinals for center fielder Colby Rasmus, righty P.J. Walters and left-handers Trever Miller and Brian Tallet.

Rasmus appears to be the centrepiece of both deals as he tries to leave behind a turbulent past with the Cardinals that occasionally had him at odds with manager Tony La Russa.

"He can run, he can throw, he's a five-tool talent," general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. "We think Colby is going to fit in great with his teammates here. We feel that we're pretty thorough. You're not always going to be right, but we think we're getting a player that has a chance to be a part of this core, and that's hard to add."

Rasmus has 11 homers and 40 RBIs, but his .246 average is 30 points lower than last year.

"He's 24 and had a very good season last year as a 23-year-old, and there's upside," Anthopoulos said. "And it certainly comes with risk, but that's really the position that we're in. We have to take these types of chances and try to tap into that ceiling."

The Blue Jays are 10 games behind the New York Yankees in the wild-card chase.

They've won 26 of 30 home meetings with the Orioles and limited them to four hits Wednesday.

Carlos Villanueva (5-2, 3.40 ERA) takes the mound looking to capitalize on the Orioles, who have been held to three or fewer runs in five of six games — four losses.

Both of the right-hander's starts against Baltimore this year have ended in Toronto victories, while he's gone 1-0 with a 3.97 ERA. Villanueva, though, is seeking his first win this month after going 0-1 with a 4.07 ERA in four games. He gave up three runs and a season-high 10 hits in 5 2-3 innings while not getting a decision in a 5-4 loss at Texas.

The Orioles, losers of eight of nine on the road, are trying to avoid losing an eighth consecutive series since taking two of three from Cincinnati from June 24-26.

They'll give the ball to Brad Bergesen (2-6, 5.54), who is looking to win back-to-back starts for the first time since September.

The right-hander was impressive Saturday, yielding two runs and six hits in six innings of a 3-2 win over Los Angeles. He hadn't won since May 14, going 0-2 with a 7.76 ERA in 10 games — three starts.

"My stuff isn't the plus-plus, nasty big-league-type stuff," said Bergesen, who threw 53 of his 80 pitches for strikes against the Angels. "So for me to fall behind in the counts makes it tough in regards to keep pounding the strike zone and getting ahead of guys."

Bergesen is 2-2 with a 5.54 ERA in six starts against the Blue Jays, but tossed a seven-hitter in a 3-1 win in the most recent meeting Sept. 15.

With files from CBCSports.ca