The Baltimore Orioles dropped six of seven during their rain-shortened road trip, but a return home to face a familiar foe could get manager Buck Showalter’s charges back on track. Baltimore opens a three-game series at Camden Yards on Friday versus the Toronto Blue Jays, against whom they outscored 26-14 en route to winning five of their previous six meetings this season.
Chris Davis extended his hitting streak to seven games by belting his fifth homer in five contests in Thursday’s 6-5 setback at Detroit. The 31-year-old has recorded nine RBIs and scored as many runs during that stretch while notching five hits – including two homers – in the season series versus the Blue Jays. While Baltimore has slipped behind the first-place New York Yankees in the American League East, Toronto has shown signs of making a move out of the division’s basement by winning six of their last nine contests – including a 9-0 rout of Atlanta on Thursday. Emphatic bat flips aside, Jose Bautista is starting to heat up after an ice-cold start to the season with eight hits in the series versus the Braves and four homers, 12 RBIs and 11 runs scored in his last nine contests.
PITCHING MATCHUP: Blue Jays RH Aaron Sanchez (0-1, 2.95 ERA) vs. Orioles RH Chris Tillman (1-0, 2.89)
Sanchez took a positive step in his first start since returning from a pair of stints on the disabled list, allowing an unearned run and five hits in five innings of a no-decision versus Seattle. The 24-year-old didn’t fare as well in his last encounter with Baltimore, permitting five runs and seven hits – three homers – over 5 1/3 frames in a 6-4 setback. Davis, Jonathan Schoop and J.J. Hardy all went deep against Sanchez, who owns a 5-3 career record versus Baltimore despite yielding 11 homers and 32 walks in 56 1/3 innings.
Tillman needed 105 pitches (with only 61 for strikes) to get through just 4 1/3 innings at Kansas City on Saturday, avoiding a loss after allowing three runs and eight hits. “Command has been a challenge for him,” Showalter said of the 29-year-old Tillman. “He feels good health-wise, so that’s a good sign. Looking forward to him getting in a groove and pitching like he’s capable of.” Tillman may have an uphill battle versus Toronto, against which he owns a 5-10 career mark with a 5.44 ERA while surrendering 29 homers in 137 1/3 innings.
1. Baltimore CF Adam Jones has collected two homers, four RBIs and five runs scored during his seven-game hitting streak.
2. Toronto CF Kevin Pillar will finish serving his two-game suspension on Friday for yelling a homophobic slur at an Atlanta pitcher.
3. Orioles 3B Manny Machado sat out his first contest of the season on Thursday and is questionable for the series opener with an injured finger on his right hand.
PREDICTION: Orioles 4, Blue Jays 3