Blue Jays-Orioles Preview
Although R.A. Dickey was forced to leave his last start early, he's feeling well enough to give it a go Tuesday night.
The Baltimore Orioles can't be happy to hear that.
Dickey, who completely baffled manager Buck Showalter's team last season, tries to win a third straight start as the Toronto Blue Jays continue a three-game set against the Orioles at Camden Yards.
After compiling an 8.44 ERA over his first two outings, Dickey (2-2, 4.30 ERA) has since found his form, posting a 0.73 mark in winning his last two. The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner scattered two hits and struck out seven over six scoreless innings Thursday in a 3-1 win over the Chicago White Sox before exiting due to tightness in his neck and back.
"I had a knuckleball tonight where I would have thrown a complete game," he said, "so it was unfortunate that (the injury) acted up on me."
Dickey skipped his bullpen session between starts, instead choosing to play catch. He's eager to get back on the mound but isn't sure how long he'll last.
"I feel better than I did leading into my last start. I think we've given it enough rest and treatment," he said. "It tends to tighten up as the game goes along."
Dickey has recorded a 0.56 ERA in winning his last two starts versus Baltimore (11-8), including a brilliant performance last June 18 while with the New York Mets. The veteran knuckleballer fanned a career high-tying 13 and threw a one-hitter in a 5-0 victory.
"He's not like (Tim) Wakefield flipping it up there 60 miles an hour, this guy is throwing with some velocity on it," Chris Davis, who went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts that night, told MLB's official website afterward.
"He's got a couple of different looks, and he still throws some other pitches, too, to complement that. He's throwing anywhere from 78 to 83 miles an hour - that's a hard knuckleball. You just got to grit your teeth and bear it."
Dickey could have his hands full this time around against an Orioles team that's hitting .429 with runners in scoring position during a 4-1 run. Baltimore had gone 0 for 7 in such situations Monday before Nick Markakis came through with a two-out, bases-loaded single in the ninth inning for a 2-1 win.
Toronto (8-12) finds itself at the bottom of the AL East after dropping five of seven. Manager John Gibbons refused to blame shortstop Munenori Kawasaki for his costly throwing error that loaded the bases for Baltimore.
"To hang that on him, I'm not about to do that," Gibbons said. "You win as a team and lose as a team. They got the big hit when they needed it."
Edwin Encarnacion went 1 for 4 with a run scored Monday - his only hit in his last 18 at-bats. Jose Bautista saw his average dip back down to .200 after going 0 for 4. The slugging right fielder is batting .071 (2 for 28) over his last nine games against the Orioles.
Baltimore now turns to Miguel Gonzalez (1-1, 4.00), who gave up a career worst-tying three homers and five runs over 5 2-3 innings Thursday in a 10-6 , 10-inning win over Tampa Bay. The right-hander is 1-1 with a 4.73 ERA over two starts against the Blue Jays.
Colby Rasmus is 0 for 7 with three strikeouts against Gonzalez, and Encarnacion is 1 for 7. That hit, though, left the yard.
The Orioles have taken eight of 10 from the Blue Jays at home.