Toronto has lost six of its last seven games to fall below .500 for the first time all season. The Jays placed starter Brandon Morrow on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left oblique on Wednesday, then watched Kyle Drabek leave his start vs. the Nationals with a right elbow injury after 4 1/3 innings that same afternoon.
A promising first two months of the season for the Jays has quickly sputtered in June. Manager John Farrell is trying to keep his team focused on the task at hand and not on the recent string of poor play and bad luck.
"I know guys are frustrated," Farrell said. "That expectation that we've referred to many times and we talked about at the onset of the season, that has not changed despite any recent injury, or games that have not finished as we intended or because we're not getting the bottom line result as frequently as we have at other times of the year. I think everyone is aware of where we are in terms of record or standing, but it doesn't dissuade the mentality or approach taken."
Farell doesn't want his team to feel discouraged by the recent misfortunes, including a three-game sweep by Washington.
"Well that's talked about when we address or when I talk to the team as a group -- the challenges that we face," the manager said. "The message that's always reiterated despite the challenges, whether it's the performance, whether we're in a stretch where things are going well for us as a group or injuries, our expectations don't change. If personnel change, we would hope that we're able to plug in the person that is going to replace someone with the intended goal remaining the same. We can't waver off our approach and what that approach is geared towards doing."
After an off-day on Thursday, right-hander Drew Hutchison is scheduled to start the series opener vs. the Phillies on Friday.
Hutchison is 5-3 with a 4.66 ERA in 10 starts this season. The rookie is 3-0 at Rogers Centre, with 22 strikeouts in 26 innings over four starts.
Like Toronto, the Phillies had a rough start to June. Philadelphia lost nine of its first 11 games to begin the month after posting a 16-13 record in May following an 11-12 mark in April.
Vance Worley is scheduled to start for the Phillies. The right-hander has never faced the Jays but is 1-0 with a 0.75 ERA in four career Interleague starts. On the season, he's 3-2 with 54 strikeouts in 54 innings.
Phillies: Utley begins rehab assignment
Chase Utley moved one step closer to returning to the Major Leagues when he began a rehab assignment with Class A Clearwater on Tuesday.
"That's definitely good news," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "Super."
Utley went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts as the designated hitter in his first game with the Threshers.
Position players have 20 days to rehab before they must be called up to the Majors, if they are healthy. If Utley has no setbacks, he could be back with the Phillies no later than July 2.
Utley went 0-for-3 in his rehab game on Thursday, and has yet to play second base, although he said his knee is feeling good.
Philadelphia's Jim Thome will get his last at-bats as designated hitter this season in the series against the Jays. Then, it's back to his role as a pinch-hitter
In six games at DH since June 8, Thome is a scorching 11-for-24 (.458) with 13 RBIs and his only three home runs of the season. After Wednesday's 9-8 win, the 41-year-old Thome said he's simply taking advantage of his opportunities.
"You never know when those moments are going to keep coming, and you cherish them," Thome said. "The position I've been in, it means a lot."
Blue Jays: Bautista moving up charts
Jose Bautista homered in the third inning on Wednesday off Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg. It was his 132nd career homer as a Blue Jay, passing Ernie Whitt to move into seventh on the club's all-time list.
Bautista has homered in each of his last two games and has 19 this season. He's batting .236 with 47 RBIs while slugging .520.
The outfielder now has seven home runs in June after hitting three in April and nine in May. He's also reached base in 14 straight games.
"When Jose's at his best, he's not expanding the strike zone where he's not forced to," Farrell said. "I think he has laid off a number of high fastballs, and when he has gotten pitches on the plate, we've seen for a long period of time what he's capable of doing, and that's the situation he's in right now."
The Jays are 3-6 vs. teams from the National League East this year.
The Phillies are 6-3 on Fridays this season.
Toronto is 16-15 at Rogers Centre this year.
Thursday marked the Phillies' first Interleage series win of the season.