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TOR@PHI: Buehrle tosses five scoreless innings

It's only two games, but this still wasn't the start the Blue Jays were hoping for after a blockbuster offseason left them as the popular pick to win the American League East.

Toronto, still in search of its first win, will look to avoid a season-opening sweep at the hands of the Indians when it sends one of those key offseason acquisitions, Mark Buehrle, to the mound in Thursday's 7:07 p.m. ET series finale at Rogers Centre.

Though the division won't be won or lost in April -- and certainly not in the opening week -- the importance of a strong start isn't lost on Jays manager John Gibbons.

"I think [a fast start] relaxes everybody, our fans would probably like that. It would make them happy too," Gibbons said. "It doesn't always work that way. Let's face it, the buildup we've had here, that can make it tough to play too, there's no question. It's easy to play when nothing's on the line or not much is expected. When a lot's expected of you in this game of baseball -- it's a skill game -- the harder you try, the worse the game gets. It's not like some of the other sports."

As for the Indians, they made their fair share of noise this offseason and they, too, will send a newcomer to the mound on Thursday in Brett Myers. Myers, who pitched entirely out of the bullpen for the Astros and White Sox last year, after spending the majority of his 11-year career as a starter, returns to the rotation in Cleveland.

Along with Myers, the Indians also bolstered their offense, adding Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher, Drew Stubbs and Mark Reynolds. The new additions are already making their mark in Cleveland, with Stubbs driving in what turned out to be the game-winning run in Tuesday's opener and Reynolds delivering the decisive home run in Wednesday's extra-innings victory.

"We've got a pretty interesting team," Bourn said. "We've got a lot of talent. We've even got pitching depth that goes past our pitching up here. We're looking forward to it, man. Everybody in here is excited."

With 160 games left, the Blue Jays are far from entering panic mode after just two losses. However, it must be kept in mind that -- after a similar offseason splash a year ago -- the Angels never recovered from their sluggish 6-14 start en route to missing the postseason.

Though he doesn't feel his team is anywhere near that level yet, Gibbons admitted it's inevitable that players will eventually start pressing if the club doesn't start winning.

"Oh, yeah, everybody does that, I don't care how long you've been around, how successful you've been," Gibbons said. "That's just the reaction, because everybody wants to perform. And then the focus swings on you, everybody's going, 'What's going on?' You can't run from it."

Indians: Kazmir to miss Saturday start
Though the Indians are tabbing it simply as a precautionary move, Scott Kazmir will not start Saturday's game after injuring his right side while playing catch during Monday's workout in Toronto.

Kazmir, who won the Tribe's final rotation spot as a non-roster invitee this spring, has not pitched a full season in the Majors since 2010 due to mechanical issues that led to struggles on the mound. The Indians are sending Kazmir back to Cleveland to undergo an MRI exam to determine the extent of his injury. As of now, the plan to have him rejoin the team on Friday for its road series in Tampa Bay.

"We're going to kind of go the cautious course," Indians manager Terry Francona said.

Cleveland plans to announce a replacement starter on Thursday for Kazmir, who threw a 30-pitch bullpen session Wednesday without any issues.

"He did fine. He did well. He probably could've pitched [Saturday]," Francona said. "The kid has worked hard. He made the club. It just didn't seem to make sense to any of us to [have him pitch Saturday]. We were really encouraged by the way he threw. We just didn't think it made sense."

Blue Jays: Gibbons hoping Buehrle's quick pace rubs off
Every season seems to bring with it certain guarantees when it comes to Buehrle. The veteran southpaw routinely turns in double-digit wins, 30-plus starts, 200-plus innings and his fair share of quick games on the mound.

While Gibbons would gladly take all of those attributes for each of his starters, he's at least hoping Buehrle's fast pace will spread to others within the Jays' rotation.

"A lot of times when guys run into trouble is when they take too long," Gibbons said. "So you tell them to speed it up a little bit, and generally they get better results."

Considering Buehrle's fast pace has contributed to his 12 straight seasons of double-digit victories, 30-plus starts and at least 200 innings pitched, Gibbons is confident the veteran's presence will pay dividends for the entire rotation.

"It just shows you, quick pace, you get the ball and throw it, good things happen," Gibbons said. "The big thing, it helps the guys behind you, your defenders back there. Keeps them on their toes. Nothing worse than you get a guy in there and takes forever to throw the ball. You look around at your position players, they're daydreaming themselves. When the ball's hit, sometimes they're caught off guard.

"Everybody can pick it up a little bit and generally it helps them."

Worth noting
• The Indians are seeking their first season-opening sweep since 1998, when they started the year on a six-game winning streak en route to winning the AL Central with an 89-73 record.

• Jose Bautista is 3-for-7 in his career against Myers with one homer and four RBIs.

• Nick Swisher is 10-for-25 [.400] with seven walks in his career against Buehrle. His .531 on-base percentage is tied for the best among all players with more than 30 plate appearances against the southpaw. Comments