The Toronto Blue Jays are off to their worst start in franchise history and in desperate need of an offensive spark. Following another series sweep, the Blue Jays will try to end their troubling slide when they open a four-game series with the visiting Baltimore Orioles on Thursday.
Toronto managed four hits in a 2-0 loss to Milwaukee on Wednesday – its fifth consecutive defeat – and it has 17 total hits in its last four games. Right fielder Jose Bautista had one of the four hits but is batting just .138 and second baseman Devon Travis is hitless in 21 at-bats over the course of the five-game slide. The Orioles, who swept two from Toronto at home to begin the season, are coming off a vastly different experience after ripping five home runs in a 12-5 victory at Boston on Wednesday. Rookie outfielder Trey Mancini slugged two of the homers and he has five in his first 10 games in the majors.
PITCHING MATCHUP: Orioles RH Kevin Gausman (0-0, 5.40 ERA) vs. Blue Jays LH Francisco Liriano (0-0, 135.00)
Gausman took a step back in his second start of the season Saturday against the New York Yankees, allowing four runs and eight hits with three walks in 4 2/3 innings. He has given up 13 hits and walked seven in 10 frames thus far and was hit hard last year against Toronto, going 0-2 with a 7.04 ERA in three starts. Darwin Barney (4-for-8, one home run) and Kevin Pillar (5-for-12) are among those who have enjoyed their encounters with the 26-year-old Gausman.
Liriano walked four batters, threw one wild pitch and was taken deep by Tampa Bay’s Evan Longoria while retiring just one batter in his dismal 2017 debut last week on the road. He will hope for a better result at the Rogers Centre, where he went 2-1 with a 3.07 ERA in five starts after being traded from Pittsburgh to Toronto last season. The 33-year-old Dominican Republic native is 2-4 with a 4.34 ERA in nine career starts against Baltimore and has struggled when facing Adam Jones, who is 8-for-21 with three homers versus Liriano.
1. Orioles 1B Chris Davis has hit safely in all seven of his games this year after going 3-for-5 on Wednesday.
2. Blue Jays 3B Josh Donaldson (calf) served as the team’s designated hitter in Wednesday’s loss.
3. Toronto last lost six in a row near the end of the 2014 season.
PREDICTION: Orioles 6, Blue Jays 4