BALTIMORE — Looking to reverse a recent trend, the Toronto Blue Jays hope to win their first road series in more than a month Sunday.
The Blue Jays (63-73) have won two of the first three games in a four-game weekend series against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards, including a 7-2 victory Saturday night. One more win would also give them their first series win over their American League East rivals this season.
Toronto last won a road series with a 5-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Aug. 2. The Blue Jays have dropped three consecutive road series since then. Overall, they are 8-16 in their last 24 road games and 3-7 in their last 10.
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On top of that, Toronto is 0-4 in series against the Orioles this season.
But they have started to find their stride. On Saturday, they clubbed three home runs and the bullpen provided 7 1/3 innings of strong relief after starter Marcus Stroman was struck by a line drive.
Josh Donaldson led off the offensive charge by going 3-for-5, including his 24th homer of the year, a three-run shot that broke the game open in the seventh inning.
“You just look at his season, he’s starting to get his legs up under him and his timing more than anything,” Toronto bench coach DeMarlo Hale said of Donaldson, who has 15 home runs since the All-Star break in early July.
Hale was managing Saturday’s game for Toronto because John Gibbons was attending to a personal matter.
Baltimore (69-67), meanwhile, is trying to stay in the thick of the chase for a wild-card spot in the American League playoffs. Saturday’s loss dropped the Orioles 2 1/2 games behind the Minnesota Twins for the second wild-card spot.
Until Thursday’s 11-8 loss to Toronto in the series opener, the Orioles had won seven in a row to jump into serious contention.
“I guess we just have to win more games than the teams in front of us,” said Orioles outfielder Seth Smith, who accounted for one of his team’s runs Saturday with his 13th home run of the season. “That’s really what it all comes down to. There is no other way to say it.”
The pitching matchup for Sunday’s game will pit Baltimore’s Chris Tillman against Toronto’s Brett Anderson.
Tillman (1-7, 7.91 ERA) has gotten two no-decisions since being reinstated in the starting rotation on Aug. 19. He has not won since his first start of the year on May 7.
In one start against the Blue Jays this season on May 19, Tillman worked six innings, allowing three earned runs and five hits on his way to a no-decision. He is 5-10 in 25 career starts against Toronto.
“We need our starting pitcher to pitch well to give us a chance to win,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “That’s the most important thing about it, regardless of who it is.”
Anderson (2-3, 6.83 ERA), meanwhile, made his Blue Jays debut last Tuesday against the Boston Red Sox. The left-hander allowed one run and six hits in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out three and walked none.
The 29-year-old Anderson has been bothered by a back injury this season that has caused him to miss significant time. He posted an 8.18 ERA in six starts for the Chicago Cubs this season before being released July 31. The Blue Jays signed him to a minor-league deal on Aug. 14.
Anderson made one start against the Orioles in 2010 while pitching for the Oakland A’s. He allowed six runs and eight hits in five innings on his way to one of his six losses that season.