Jose Bautista is making an impression at the top of the batting order for the Toronto Blue Jays, who look to continue their dominance of the visiting Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday when the American League East rivals open a three-game series at Rogers Centre. Bautista is 8-for-21 in five games since being elevated to the leadoff spot with a .480 on-base percentage and .571 slugging percentage.
“Generally he’s always a high on-base guy. He gets on base and draws a lot of walks, and he’s dangerous when he’s hitting,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of Bautista, who homered and drove in a season-high four runs in Sunday’s 8-2 rout of Kansas City.
The 36-year-old Bautista has struggled versus Tuesday starter Kevin Gausman to the tune of going 4-for-21 with five strikeouts, although Toronto hasn’t faced much resistance from Baltimore this season with wins in seven of nine encounters.
Trey Mancini homered for the second straight day on Sunday as the Orioles captured their first road series victory in over two months with an 8-5 triumph of Tampa Bay. The 25-year-old Mancini, who is 10-for-22 on his six-game hitting streak, is 8-for-17 with two homers versus Toronto this season.
PITCHING MATCHUP: Orioles RH Kevin Gausman (3-7, 6.47 ERA) vs. Blue Jays RH Joe Biagini (2-6, 4.45)
Gausman fell to 0-3 in his last four starts on Wednesday after allowing three runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings of a 5-1 setback to Cleveland. “You take the positives and try to forget the negatives,” said the 26-year-old, who struck out a season-high nine batters but was taken deep for the fourth straight contest and the eighth time in eight outings. Gausman worked his way in and out of trouble in his last encounter with Toronto on May 20, permitting two runs on 10 hits in six innings of a no-decision.
Biagini snapped a four-start losing streak and posted his first win since May 12 despite yielding four runs on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings against Texas on Wednesday. “Biag’s record is no indication of how good he’s pitched,” Gibbons told reporters of the 27-year-old, who could be making his last start with Aaron Sanchez on the mend. Biagini is no stranger to the Orioles, allowing three hits over 4 2/3 scoreless innings in four relief appearances this season.
1. Baltimore 2B Jonathan Schoop has recorded four multi-hit performances in his last six contests, with two homers and seven RBIs in that stretch.
2. Toronto 1B Justin Smoak is batting .371 with a .600 slugging percentage during his 10-game hitting streak.
3. Orioles C Caleb Joseph, who had three hits and as many runs scored on Sunday, is 0-for-7 with three strikeouts versus the Blue Jays this season.
PREDICTION: Orioles 4, Blue Jays 2