Blue Jays-Orioles Preview
The Toronto Blue Jays’ Mark Buehrle hasn’t won his first three games in a season in a dozen years.
Getting just one from Ubaldo Jimenez would surely be a relief to the Baltimore Orioles.
Buehrle looks to continue his impressive start to 2014, as the Blue Jays attempt to take two of three from the Orioles and send Jimenez to a third straight defeat Sunday.
Buehrle (2-0, 0.64 ERA) won his first two outings of 2010 with the Chicago White Sox. The veteran left-hander, though, hasn’t put together a longer season-opening winning streak since taking his first four starts of 2002 en route to winning a career-high 19 games.
He got his season off to an outstanding start April 2, striking out 11 while yielding four hits in 8 2-3 innings of a 3-0 win at Tampa Bay. Buehrle followed that up six days later by battling through 5 1-3 innings, allowing one run while scattering eight hits in a 5-2 win over Houston.
"I’m fortunate to get away with giving up one run," Buehrle said. "That could have been a game where I give up eight to 10 runs."
Facing the Orioles (5-6) – particularly at Camden Yards – could pose a problem for Buehrle. He owns an 8.16 ERA while losing three straight starts to Baltimore, two of which came there while surrendering 11 runs and four homers in 9 1-3 innings.
The Blue Jays (6-6) have managed just 10 total hits in this series while going 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position. They failed on seven occasions in that scenario Saturday before falling 2-1 in 12 innings.
Toronto will look to improve on that against Jimenez (0-2, 6.75), who may be looking to salvage some pride as he tries to live up to the lofty expectations that came with signing a $50 million, four-year contract in the offseason.
The right-hander gave up four runs and eight hits with five walks while getting pulled with two outs in the fifth of a 4-2 road defeat to the New York Yankees.
"He was just missing with some pitches," manager Buck Showalter said. "It was a cold day, and he was trying to get a feel for the baseball."
Jimenez is 2-1 with a 4.61 ERA in five career starts versus Toronto, but he allowed one run in 12 innings while going 1-0 in two starts with Cleveland last year.
He’s limited Jose Bautista to 1 for 19, but has struggled with Colby Rasmus, who is 8 for 24 with four doubles and a triple off him. Rasmus also hit his second solo homer in three games Saturday and is 5 for 15 in his last four games after starting the season 2 for 27.
The center fielder is 11 for 28 (.393) with five doubles, three homers, five RBIs and six runs over his past seven meetings with the Orioles.
Melky Cabrera is trying to become the first member of the Jays to open a season with a 13-game hitting streak since Joe Carter’s 16-game run to start 1992. He is batting .327 after going 2 for 6 on Saturday and hitting .323 with a .508 slugging percentage in 16 visits to Camden Yards.
Steve Lombardozzi is giving the Orioles some punch at the plate, going 6 for 17 in his last four games. He came up big Saturday, connecting for a triple before scoring on David Lough’s hit in the 12th inning.
Adam Jones is 1 for 9 in this series but 9 for 23 with two doubles and a homer off Buehrle.