Blue Jays-Orioles Preview
The Baltimore Orioles continue to receive impressive performances from their starting pitchers.
They hope Chris Tillman can find some consistency and continue that stretch Sunday when they wrap up their four-game series with the visiting Toronto Blue Jays.
Baltimore (35-32) claimed a 3-2 victory Saturday, powered by Chris Davis’ two-run homer in the fifth inning. Though his 11 home runs this season are far off his pace from last year when he finished with a major league-leading 53, it was his 12th in his last 28 matchups with Toronto.
Bud Norris gave up one run in 6 2-3 innings, marking the eighth time in nine games in which an Orioles starter completed at least six innings while allowing two runs or fewer. The rotation also owns a 2.95 ERA over the last 16 contests.
"We’re all out there to help each other and get better," Norris said. "Right now we’re kind of cruising."
It’s been a bumpy season for Tillman (5-3, 4.91 ERA), who owns an 8.55 ERA in his five outings immediately following quality starts.
He comes off a loss despite limiting Boston to one run over six innings in Tuesday’s 1-0 defeat. It marked Tillman’s first losing decision in six starts even though he posted a 7.71 ERA in the first five of those games.
"Later in the game I was executing most of my pitches," he said. "So it was good to see it coming. Especially felt better as I went, so that’s promising."
Tillman has also experienced erratic results in two matchups with the Blue Jays this year. His first defeat of the season came in a 2-0 loss on April 11 despite allowing no earned runs and three hits in eight innings. He was credited with a victory in Baltimore’s 10-8 win at Toronto 12 days later, even though he surrendered seven runs and a season-high nine hits in 5 2-3 innings.
He’s 2-1 with a 1.82 ERA in five career home games against Toronto.
The first-place Blue Jays (40-30) have dropped six of eight while homering just three times and averaging 1.9 runs per game. Brett Lawrie and Melky Cabrera – third and fourth on the club in RBIs – have driven in only one run each in that stretch while going a combined 2 for 11 with runners in scoring position.
"This has been a tough run here so we need to hopefully regroup," said catcher Josh Thole, who brought in Toronto’s first run Saturday when he drew a bases-loaded walk in the second. "We’re playing behind every night."
Cabrera, who was 0 for 5, is 7 for 19 with a home run against Tillman and 4 for 8 this season.
Left-hander J.A. Happ (5-3, 4.37) will try to improve his efficiency after requiring 89 pitches to get through 3 2-3 innings of a 4-0 loss to Minnesota on Tuesday. He was charged with three earned runs, six hits and three walks.
Happ gave up a solo homer to the currently-injured Matt Wieters while throwing 2 2-3 innings of relief in Toronto’s 10-8 loss to Baltimore on April 23. He’s 0-1 with a 2.65 ERA in three career starts against the Orioles.
Adam Jones is 5 for 10 off Happ.
Manny Machado is 6 for 11 overall while doubling in three straight games after going hitless in his previous 18 at-bats.
Toronto designated hitter Adam Lind needed a pinch-hitter for his eighth inning at-bat, leaving with a bruised right foot. His status for Sunday is unclear.