Orioles-Blue Jays Preview
The Baltimore Orioles have hit a bit of a rough patch.
Facing the struggling Toronto Blue Jays might help them get back on track.
The visiting Orioles look to avoid matching a season high with their third straight loss Monday night by handing the Blue Jays a sixth consecutive defeat.
Baltimore (29-19) held a two-game lead atop the AL East on May 19 while riding a five-game winning streak. Since then, the Orioles have dropped five of seven to fall into a tie for first with Tampa Bay. They stranded 19 runners while scoring five runs in losing the last two against Kansas City to conclude a 2-4 homestand.
"We have to prove to the fans that we're for real,'' said center fielder Adam Jones, who extended his career-high hitting streak to 18 games the same day his six-year, $85.5 million contract extension was officially announced. "There's a bigger goal here, I believe, and that's winning games.''
The Orioles have done that versus Toronto (24-24), winning five of six in 2012. Though Baltimore has seven wins in its last 37 games at Rogers Centre, two of them came during a three-game set April 13-15 for its first winning series in Toronto since 2008.
Toronto, which has been outscored 47-25 during its five-game skid, allowed 34 runs in three games at Texas. The Blue Jays have not dropped six straight since a nine-game losing streak May 19-27, 2009.
"Those games are over, we can't go back in time and change them," slugger Jose Bautista told the Blue Jays' official website. "We just have to win (Monday) night."
Jones, batting .338 during his major league season-high hitting streak, is 9 for 21 with three homers and five RBIs versus Toronto this season.
The Orioles hope scheduled starter Tommy Hunter (2-2, 5.07 ERA) can regroup after he allowed five runs in six innings while not factoring in an 8-6 loss to Boston last Monday.
Hunter is 0-1 with a 5.34 ERA in five starts since he yielded a homer to Eric Thames and two other hits in six innings of a 2-1 home win over the Blue Jays on April 24. However, the right-hander gave up five runs and a season-high four homers in six innings at Toronto on April 13.
He is 0-2 with a 6.98 ERA in three starts at Rogers Centre.
Rasmus is 7 for 20 with two homers and four RBIs in the last four games, but 0 for 13 in his last four versus Baltimore.
Toronto starting pitchers have posted a 13.50 ERA during the losing streak that began when scheduled starter Drew Hutchison (3-2, 5.73) gave up six runs and two homers in a season-low four innings of an 8-5 loss at Tampa Bay on Tuesday.
In his second career start, the right-hander allowed two runs in five innings while not factoring in a 5-2 loss at Baltimore on April 26.
The Blue Jays could be without shortstop Yunel Escobar, who left Sunday's game with tightness in his left groin. He's batting .333 during the last 10 games.