Orioles take improved pitching into series with Blue Jays
While New York, Tampa Bay and Boston are battling for the top spots in the American League East, the Orioles and Blue Jays are trying to turn things around, and that will continue Tuesday when Toronto heads to Baltimore to open a three-game series.
The rebuilding Orioles have been playing better of late, getting strong starting pitching, timely hitting and better defense. That can still only carry Baltimore so far, however, as the Orioles lost two of three in a weekend series at Houston, including a 4-0 defeat Sunday.
The starting pitching now has given manager Brandon Hyde five consecutive quality starts and taken plenty of pressure off the bullpen.
"I love the way our starters are throwing the ball and getting deep in the game," he told reporters after Sunday's loss. "I was really encouraged by our bullpen, especially this series. I thought it was our best series of the year from a pitching standpoint. It's very encouraging going forward."
The Orioles also have been getting help on offense from designated hitter Renato Nunez, who leads the team with 16 home runs, as well as Dwight Smith Jr., who has a team-high 41 RBIs (though he is out with a concussion). Now, power hitting first baseman/designated hitter Mark Trumbo is on the verge of coming back from right knee surgery
Trumbo was expected to be in Baltimore on Monday to be examined. His rehab assignment ends June 16, so the Orioles might have some tough roster decisions ahead when Trumbo is ready to return.
Toronto, meanwhile, has struggled over the last few weeks.
The Blue Jays have dropped 14 of their last 17 games and over their last 112 at-bats with runners in scoring position, they are batting .161. Toronto finished a weekend series against Arizona just 1-for-16 with runners in scoring position, losing all three games and getting shut out twice.
"We're a team that's going to keep battling, no matter what the standings show and what the records show," Blue Jays catcher Danny Jansen said. "We're going to keep having the joy in the game and we're going to keep fighting, giving it everything we've got."
Jansen went 2-for-3 with an RBI in Sunday's 8-2 loss to Arizona, a sign that he could be ready to emerge from a downturn that saw him go 2-for-29 (.069) over his previous 10 games.
But life does not get any easier for Toronto. The Blue Jays play 12 of their next 16 games on the road, with their next four series against the Orioles, Astros, Angels, Red Sox and Yankees.
Rookie right-hander Trent Thornton (1-4, 4.73 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Blue Jays, his first time facing the Orioles.
For Baltimore, John Means (5-4, 2.67) will start Tuesday, and the left-hander keeps coming up big. Dating back to April 14, he is 4-3 with a 2.77 ERA in 10 appearances (nine starts). He is coming off a no-decision against the Texas Rangers on Wednesday when he gave up one run on four hits over six innings. He has never faced the Blue Jays.
--Field Level Media
Updated June 10, 2019