Orioles-Blue Jays preview

BY foxsports • July 30, 2016

TORONTO -- There could be a new leader in the American League East on Saturday.

A Toronto victory over Baltimore in an afternoon game at Rogers Centre vaults the Blue Jays past the Orioles and into first place.

While this is an important series, there are still two months to play in the season and possible trades to be made.

The teams still have two more series to play -- in Baltimore from Aug. 29-31 and in Toronto from Sept. 27-29. The Boston Red Sox are also close in hot pursuit as well.

"It's an important series any time you play the guys you're chasing," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "We've always had good battles with these guys. We're down to the final two months."

The game Friday was not a disappointment in that regard. The Blue Jays used three first-inning home runs Friday to defeat the Orioles 6-5. That moved Toronto within a half game of first-place Baltimore in the AL East.

"It was really a typical Baltimore-Toronto type game with two teams that really just slug it out," Gibbons said.

The Orioles have a secret weapon, however. Their starter Saturday is Yovani Gallardo (3-2, 5.37 ERA), who has never lost to Toronto.

The right-hander is 4-0 with a 1.78 ERA against the Blue Jays in four career starts. He also is 1-0 with a 3.60 in the playoffs after starting against them in the 2015 American League Division Series when he was with the Texas Rangers.

He will be seeking his first win since since June 29. In the five starts since, he is 0-1 with 4.88 and the Orioles are 3-2. He allowed two runs, five hits and two walks in 6 2/3 innings Monday against the Colorado Rockies but did not factor in the decision in a 3-2 Baltimore win. He struck out six.

He has a difficult opponent in left-hander J.A. Happ (13-3, 3.27 ERA), who has already set a career best for victories in a season. He held the Seattle Mariners to one hit and four walks while striking out six in six innings of a 2-0 victory Sunday. He is 3-3 with a 3.76 ERA in 10 career games (nine starts) against the Orioles.

Toronto leads the season series 6-5 and six of the games have been decided by one run.

The Orioles have lost four in a row overall and 11 of their past 16 road games. They are 1-4 this season at Rogers Centre.

After Kevin Gausman allowed six runs in three innings Friday, the Orioles had a solid four-inning relief outing from Vance Worley, who allowed only one walk and one hit.

It gave Orioles manager Buck Showalter some encouragement.

"Worley did a great job," Showalter said. "Our guys grinded against one of the better pitchers in the league (right-hander Marco Estrada) and got him out of there and gave us a chance. I was proud of the way the guys got back in it, tough environment."



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