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KC@MIN: Mendoza strikes out five over eight innings

The Blue Jays' starting rotation has been hit hard by injuries in the first half of the season, so much so that Toronto has dipped into its bullpen to plug the gaps.

Converted reliever Carlos Villanueva will make his second start of the season in Wednesday's rubber match against the Royals.

Kansas City won the opener, 11-3, on Monday, before the Blue Jays took Tuesday's contest, 6-3, thanks to a three-run homer from Adam Lind to cap a six-run fourth inning.

With injuries to starters Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison, the Blue Jays continue to look for the right combination in their rotation.

Villanueva made his first start last Friday, allowing three runs on seven hits in seven innings with six strikeouts in a no-decision vs. the Angels. In 22 appearances out of the bullpen, he fanned 36 in 33 1/3 innings and had a 3.24 ERA.

The right-hander threw 92 pitches on Friday, topping his previous high output, a 66-pitch outing on May 25, 2011, in 4 1/3 innings of relief.

"I felt a little tired, I'm not going to lie," Villanueva said after his start against the Angels. "Those middle innings, when I had guys in scoring position, I had to work a little harder, but for me, it's when I have guys on base I have to slow the game down, slow the pace."

While Toronto hopes for better results from Villanueva, the Royals hope Luis Mendoza can build on his last start. The right-hander was brilliant over eight innings vs. the Twins last Friday, allowing one run on five hits and retiring the last 13 batters he faced.

"It was my first time going eight innings in the big leagues," Mendoza said. "I just tried to keep going."

Mendoza is 3-4 with a 4.50 ERA this season. Mendoza will make his fourth career start vs. Toronto. He is 1-1 with a 6.06 ERA against the Jays in four appearances.

Royals: Strong arms in outfield
• Kansas City leads the Major Leagues in outfield assists this season with 20 in 79 games.

While the Royals did not have an outfield assist on Tuesday, they are still ahead of Oakland, Arizona and Toronto.

Kansas City led the Majors in 2011 with 51 outfield assists, paced by Gold Glove winner Alex Gordon.

This year, Gordon and Jeff Francoeur each have six assists, while Jarrod Dyson has five. Jason Bourgeois, Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer each have one.

"It just reaffirms the job that [coach] Doug Sisson does with the outfielders," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "This isn't an accident. He's got them throwing every three days. When we come in for early batting practice at the beginning of every series, the outfielders throw."

Blue Jays: Carpenter joins bullpen
• Toronto called up reliever Drew Carpenter from Triple-A Las Vegas and he joined the club prior to Tuesday's game, while right-hander David Pauley was designated for assignment.

Carpenter did not pitch in Tuesday's win. The right-hander was 6-3 with a 3.38 ERA in 21 appearances in the Minors, including 12 starts. Toronto thinks he can contribute in long relief or high-leverage situations.

"He has the ability of giving us multiple innings, put the ball on the ground," Farrell said. "In an ideal world, for him to come in here in a game in the sixth or seventh inning, and we're down a run, hold the game right there. That's the role and we're looking for that guy to support the relievers that we go to when we're tied or we're up a run or two. There has been a void there."

Pauley had a 9.95 ERA in five games with the Jays. He gave up three runs in three inning during Monday's loss.

Worth noting
• Toronto leads the season series 5-1. Comments