Orioles-Blue Jays Preview
Though the Toronto Blue Jays are still last in the AL East, they've managed to surge a bit near the end of May.
With one of their prized pitching prospects set to make his major league debut, the Blue Jays look for a third straight victory Friday night against the visiting Baltimore Orioles.
After losing 21 of its first 31, Toronto (20-27) has won 10 of 16, including seven of the last 10 following a 12-6 victory over Baltimore on Thursday. Edwin Encarnacion hit his fifth career grand slam and J.P. Arencibia added a homer with four RBIs as the Blue Jays scored at least 10 runs for the fourth time in seven home contests.
The Blue Jays have batted .314 and averaged 8.1 runs while winning six of seven at home.
Encarnacion is hitting .382 (13 for 34) with three home runs and 13 RBIs in his last nine games. Five of Encarnacion's eight hits in his last 26 at-bats against Baltimore (25-22) have been home runs. He's recorded 12 RBIs during that stretch.
Arencibia has hit .542 (13 for 24) with three homers and 11 RBIs in his last eight against the Orioles.
The Blue Jays hope to stay hot behind left-hander Sean Nolin, who will make his major league debut Friday. Despite a groin strain suffered during spring training, the 6-foot-5 Nolin was 2-0 with a 1.17 ERA in three starts for Double-A New Hampshire.
"He's got the stuff to do it," manager John Gibbons told the Blue Jays' official website. "He's pitching in a nice little groove, and we need somebody.
"He's a very mature kid, he carries himself well. He can handle that."
Nolin faces a Baltimore team that has dropped seven of nine.
Chris Davis hit his major league-leading 15th homer and Manny Machado added three doubles to extend his majors' lead to 21, but starter Kevin Gausman could not hold a 3-0 lead in his career debut.
"He gave us a chance to win against a team swinging the bat as hot as anybody,'' Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.
Davis is batting .365 with six home runs, six doubles and 14 RBIs in the last 13 games. He has 10 homers in his last 20 games against the Blue Jays.
Among the major league leaders with a .330 batting average, Machado is 9 for 17 (.529) with five doubles and four RBIs in four career games at Toronto.
Keeping the ball in the park has been a bit of a challenge of late for scheduled Baltimore starter Chris Tillman (3-2, 3.52 ERA), who has allowed five home runs in three starts after he gave up three in the first six.
The right-hander was 3-0 with a 1.87 ERA in his five previous five starts before he allowed three runs, two homers and three other hits in six innings of a 3-1 loss to Tampa Bay on Sunday.
Tillman has yielded eight home runs while going 1-2 with a 3.89 ERA in six starts versus Toronto. However, he gave up a run in 6 2-3 innings but did not factor in the decision of a 2-1 home win over the Blue Jays on April 22.