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Sat, Sep 10, 2011 - 1:07 PM ET
 

Orioles-Blue Jays Preview

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Henderson Alvarez is considered one of the Toronto Blue Jays' top pitching prospects. This should come as no surprise to the Baltimore Orioles.

Alvarez, who shut down the Orioles in earning his first major league win last week at Camden Yards, looks to extend his 14-inning scoreless streak Saturday when he takes the ball against a Baltimore team seeking its fourth straight victory.

Toronto (72-73) called up Alvarez (1-2, 2.95 ERA) from the minors on Aug. 9 after he went 8-4 with a 2.86 ERA at Double-A New Hampshire. The rookie, who made two appearances in the Futures Game, had some rocky moments in his first four big league starts, but has been superb in the last two.

In Baltimore on Aug. 31, Alvarez permitted three hits without a walk in eight innings of a 13-0 victory. At 21 years and 135 days, he became the youngest Blue Jays starter to win a game since Phil Huffman in 1979.

Alvarez followed up that gem by giving up four hits with a walk in six innings in Monday's 1-0, 11-inning win over Boston. Red Sox manager Terry Francona was impressed with what he saw.

"He had tremendous movement, just natural movement," he said. "The ball was diving all over the place."

Alvarez has shown excellent control in the big leagues, issuing six walks over 36 2-3 innings. He should be able to limit his number of free passes again, considering Baltimore has the fourth-fewest bases on balls in the majors with 393.

The Orioles (58-85) topped the Blue Jays 2-0 in Friday's series opener for their third straight win following a 2-8 stretch. Vladimir Guerrero and Nick Markakis each drove in a run, and both have been swinging hot bats lately.

In the last five games, Guerrero is 9 for 19 with a homer and three doubles, while Markakis is 8 for 19 with five RBIs and five walks. They went a combined 1 for 5 against Alvarez last week.

Toronto had three hits Friday after combining for 18 runs and 19 hits in winning its previous two games over Boston. Adam Lind had two of the hits Friday after missing the previous two with a sore right wrist.

Lind is batting .322 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 15 games against the Orioles this year, and is 2 for 4 lifetime against Rick VandenHurk (0-0, 2.45), who is scheduled to make his first start of the season.

A September callup, VandenHurk has made two relief appearances - including 1 1-3 scoreless innings against Toronto last Thursday - after going 9-13 with a 4.43 ERA in 26 starts for Triple-A Norfolk.

The 26-year-old right-hander, who has made 33 career starts over parts of four seasons in the big leagues, posted a 0.95 ERA in winning his final three minor league outings.

"It's a good opportunity for him," manager Buck Showalter told the Orioles' official website. "I want to see where he is. He pitched real well the last month. Obviously, he looks the part and has a good arm. It's an opportunity; we hope he takes advantage of it."

In his lone start against the Blue Jays on Sept. 26, VandenHurk allowed three runs and four hits in four innings of a 5-2 loss.

Tagged: Orioles, Blue Jays, Rick van den Hurk

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