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OAK@CLE: Kazmir talks about early ejection from start

Two of the hottest teams in baseball will open a three-game series on Friday night when the A's and Blue Jays go head-to-head at Rogers Centre.

Oakland has won 11 of its last 13 games and owns the best record in the Majors at 30-17. Meanwhile, Toronto has won eight of 10 and 13 of its past 18 following a three-game sweep of Boston at Fenway Park.

Though the A's pitching staff has posted a 1.58 ERA and held opponents to a .185 batting average over the last 13 games, the offense has slowed somewhat, managing five runs on seven hits over the last two games. Still, Oakland has outscored its opponents, 79-25, since May 7.

Left-hander Scott Kazmir, who was ejected in the second inning at Cleveland on Saturday after arguing balls and strikes with home-plate umpire Jerry Layne, is scheduled to take the mound for Oakland. Kazmir is enjoying a solid start to the season, having limited opposing hitters to a .215 batting average and a .133 clip with runners in scoring position.

Though he only went 1 1/3 innings on Saturday, Kazmir did throw 41 pitches, so he was kept on his normal throwing routine between outings.

"We're still trying to be careful and get him through the whole year," manager Bob Melvin said.

Kazmir has made 15 career starts against the Blue Jays -- 4-5 with a 3.80 ERA against them lifetime.

Right-hander Liam Hendriks is scheduled to make his Blue Jays debut. Toronto claimed Hendriks off waivers from the Orioles during Spring Training and assigned him to Triple-A Buffalo, where he was 5-0 with a 1.48 ERA in nine appearances (seven starts). Hendriks is 0-1 with a 5.51 ERA in three career appearances (two starts) against the A's.

Hendriks will have one of the most potent offenses in the game behind him. The Blue Jays lead the Majors with 67 home runs and have homered in 25 of their last 30 games. Toronto also leads the American League with 168 extra-base hits.

"You can see how we've been making adjustments at the plate," said first baseman Edwin Encarnacion, who already has 11 homers this month. "We've been looking for our pitch, we've been trying to be aggressive and trying to do our best to win games."

A's: Crisp, Lowrie back in action
Center fielder Coco Crisp and shortstop Jed Lowrie were both in the lineup against the Rays in Thursday's series finale after missing time with neck injuries.

Crisp missed seven games from May 7-16 with neck pain, and the same pain caused him to miss parts of the first two games vs. the Rays. Lowrie missed the first two games of the Rays series with neck pain as well.

Blue Jays: Despite slow start, a share of first place
At 26-22, the Blue Jays are in first place on the latest date during a season since being at the top of the AL East standings on May 23, 2009.

"I haven't really noticed it that much," manager John Gibbons said. "I keep an eye on where we're at, but it's not even June yet. But it comes down to, I think, we've been playing good baseball the last few weeks and that's the important thing."

Gibbons added that given the ups and downs so far this season, he feels good about where his club is toward the end of May.

"Too often at this time of the year we're looking up a pretty good distance," Gibbons said. "So we feel pretty good about that. We've had a couple of points this year where we could have gone either way and start to disappear a little bit, but the guys have hung in there and hung around, so I feel good about that."

Worth noting
• With his 2-for-3 performance for the A's on Thursday, Josh Donaldson has reached base in 27 consecutive road games dating to Sept. 28 of last season. That ties him for the longest such streak in club history with Eric Chavez, who also reached base in 27 straight road games from July 22 to Sept. 16, 2005.

• Encarnacion's 11 home runs in May are the most he's hit in a calendar month in his career (he had never previously reached double digits in home runs in a single month). Encarnacion leads the AL with 28 extra-base hits. Eight have come in his last seven games, along with 12 RBIs.

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