Blue Jays-Orioles Preview
Jose Bautista has become one of the most feared hitters in
baseball, but he hasn’t lived up to that billing against the lowly
Baltimore Orioles this year.
Bautista appears to have his home run swing back in order as the
Toronto Blue Jays visit the last-place Orioles in the opener of a
three-game series Friday night.
He’s compiled 87 homers and 197 RBIs since the start of last
season, leading the majors in both categories while the
next-closest home run total is 20 away by St. Louis’ Albert Pujols.
Bautista’s 33 homers are tops in baseball this year, and he’s fifth
in the AL with a .321 average.
His only two hits in the past three games have been solo shots,
a stretch which comes after he went a season-high 14 games without
a home run.
He’s gone 11 in a row without homering against Baltimore (43-65)
while batting .143 (5 for 35). Even though the Orioles rank last in
the majors with a 4.86 ERA and 137 homers allowed, they are the
only team to face Bautista in more than four games this year and
keep him in the yard.
Bautista is a career .191 hitter at Camden Yards with six homers
in 28 games.
The start of this series may not lend well to Bautista, who is 0
for 8 versus Tommy Hunter – Friday’s scheduled starter.
Despite Bautista’s struggles, the Blue Jays (56-55) have won 21
of the last 27 meetings with the Orioles, taking two of three at
home from July 26-28.
Blue Jays top prospect and third baseman Brett Lawrie is
expected to make his major league debut. Lawrie hit .353 with 18
homers and 61 RBIs in 69 games at Triple-A Las Vegas, and is fully
healthy after fracturing his hand in late May.
“This is a guy that we’ve had a lot of expectations on,” manager
John Farrell told the team’s official website. “That’s not to
create more of a hysteria situation, than the attention that’s
going to follow him, but he has done everything we’ve asked at
Brad Mills, who was a hard-luck loser in his season debut in
Saturday’s 3-0 defeat to Texas, starts for Toronto. The left-hander
allowed two runs in seven innings.
He was impressive in his only meeting with the Orioles on July
28, 2010, yielding two hits in seven innings of a 5-0 victory. That
stands as his only win in 10 games – six starts – over three
The Orioles are opening a 10-game homestand after losing five of
six following Thursday’s 9-4 defeat at Kansas City.
They may be without J.J. Hardy, who left Thursday’s loss with a
sore ankle. He hit his 19th homer of the season before getting hurt
and is considered day-to-day.
“The good news, it doesn’t seem to be like an ankle turn,
(because) it’s not swelling,” manager Buck Showalter told the
team’s official website. “We will see where we are (Friday). (Cesar
Izturis) might be coming back at just the right time.”
Izturis is expected to return from nerve irritation in his right
elbow, which needed surgery and landed him on the disabled list in
May. He may fill in for Hardy at short, but he’s just 5 for 26 with
Baltimore this year.
Izturis went 3 for 10 with three RBIs in a three-game rehab
stint in the minors.
“I’m excited,” Showalter said. “We haven’t had him here in a
while. He can do a lot things for us. We’ll be able to use him in a
lot of ways.”
Hunter (1-1, 3.31 ERA) is getting his first start since being
acquired in a three-player deal with Texas on Saturday. He allowed
one run in one inning of relief in his team debut during Tuesday’s
8-2 win over the Royals.
The right-hander is 1-1 with an 8.05 ERA in three starts versus