Blue Jays-Orioles Preview
The Toronto Blue Jays may be among the worst offensive teams in the majors this season, but Melky Cabrera has had at least one hit in every game thus far.
Cabrera looks to become the first Blue Jay to open a season with a 12-game hitting streak in eight years Saturday night, when the Blue Jays go for a second straight win over the Baltimore Orioles.
Toronto (6-5) is batting only .212 in the season’s early stages and its on-base percentage isn’t much better at .284.
Cabrera, however, is hitting .327 while tying Jose Bautista with a team-high four homers. The left fielder has also hit safely in all 11 games for the longest season-opening hitting streak of his career.
Extending the run Saturday would make Cabrera the first member of the Blue Jays to go 12 straight games with at least one hit to start a season since Vernon Wells in 2006.
Cabrera had one of Toronto’s three hits Friday, but Toronto was helped by two Baltimore (4-6) errors in a series-opening 2-0 win.
He owns a .322 average and a .508 slugging percentage over his last 15 games at Camden Yards, and Cabrera is 2 for 4 with a double against scheduled starter Bud Norris.
The Orioles are looking to bounce back from their worst offensive display of the season, totaling five hits while being shut out for the first time Friday. They racked up 32 hits with four homers, six doubles and 19 runs while winning the previous two games.
"A lot of guys hit balls right at guys. It’s just how it is with this game," said center fielder Adam Jones, who was 0 for 4 and flew out to center with the bases loaded to end the fifth Friday. "There will be days when we bloop them and they all find a home, but (Friday), nothing. Crickets out there."
Norris (0-1, 9.00 ERA) wasn’t sharp in his season debut last Saturday at Detroit, allowing five runs and nine hits in five innings of a 7-6 loss. Making his second start at home may not help since Norris is 2-1 with a 7.30 ERA in five starts at Baltimore.
He surrendered three runs and seven hits in four innings of 9-5 win over Toronto on Sept. 25.
Toronto counters with Drew Hutchison (1-1, 6.23), who hopes to show dramatic improvement with his control.
The right-hander was tagged for six runs and six hits with three walks, while hitting a batter in 3 1-3 innings of a 6-4 home loss to the New York Yankees on Sunday. That came five days after he yielded three hits with three walks in 5 1-3 scoreless innings of a 4-2 win at Tampa Bay, his first outing since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2012.
"He has been off a little bit," manager John Gibbons said. "Even down in Tampa, he pitched a nice ball game but he wasn’t locating like he normally does."
Hutchison has certainly done that in two starts against Baltimore, going 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA. He’s facing them for the first time since a 6-2 win May 28, 2012, allowing three hits with nine strikeouts in seven scoreless innings.
Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy is expected to return after missing five games with back spasms.