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Series Preview: Orioles @ Blue Jays

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Baltimore Orioles (3-3) @ Toronto Blue Jays (4-2)

After cruising to a 3-0 start versus the Twins, the O’s came back to earth with three close games against the Yankees. The pitching wasn’t as sharp, the defense not as solid, and the bats ultimately quiet. Now the Orioles head north across the border for their first road series of the season - a three game set with the division-leading (well, tied anyways) Toronto Blue Jays.

The pitching will need to be sharper overall for the Orioles to find success (although one could argue Jake Arrieta and Wei-Yin Chen had solid starts). The offense wasn’t short on hits, averaging almost 10 per game, but couldn’t seem to find the runs, especially in the extra innings. Toronto has also struggled some on offense, especially with the middle of the order (Bautista, Encarnacion, and Lawrie) starting the season a combined 17 for 74. Pitching, however, has been a stronger point there, as Toronto is fourth in the AL with only 20 runs allowed.

Three game set begins tonight at 7:07pm with Tommy Hunter going up against Brandon Morrow. Games two and three will be afternoon games on Saturday (4:07) and Sunday (1:07). Apparently, due to the exchange rate in Canada, the games have to start two minutes later than normal games.

Game 1 (Friday @ 7:07pm):

Probable Pitchers:

BAL – Tommy Hunter (1-0, 0.00 ERA)

TOR – Brandon Morrow (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

Scouting Report:

Relies mostly on a fastball-slider combo, with the fastball sitting in the low 90s (slider in the mid to upper 80s). Mostly stays away from left-handed hitters, but tends to come in on the righties with the fastball (slider stays away).

Key Stats:

JJ Hardy is 2-3 with two HR versus Morrow. Nick Markakis and Adam Jones also have decent numbers. Mark Reynolds does not, going 1-7 with 4 strikeouts. Mostly good numbers for the Blue Jay hitters versus Tommy Hunter (although, ironically, Jose Bautista is a career .167 off of the O’s righty). Yunel Escobar is 6-11 with 3 doubles. Incidentally, he’s also 4-7 with 4 RBI against Kevin Gregg (I know, you’re shocked). Jim Johnson has held Toronto to a career .228 BA and has not allowed a HR.

Game 2 (Saturday @ 4:07pm):

Probable Pitchers:

BAL – Jason Hammel (1-0, 1.13 ERA)

TOR – Henderson Alvarez (0-0, 1.50 ERA)

Scouting Report:

In limited major league action, has mixed in both two-seam and four-seam fastballs with a changeup and slider. Hangs around 93 on the fastball and 85 on the changeup and slider. Keeps the fastball in on right-handed hitters. Stays away almost exclusively with the lefties.

Key Stats:

Chris Davis is 2 for 2 with a double and 2 RBI vs. Alvarez. Kelly Johnson has racked up some ABs versus Hammel from his time in the NL (4 for 15 with a double and an RBI). The remainder of the lineup has seen Hammel only sparingly.

Game 3 (Sunday @ 1:07pm)

Probable Pitchers:

BAL – Brian Matusz (0-1, 9.00 ERA)

TOR – Kyle Drabek (1-0, 1.69 ERA)

Scouting Report:

A fastball guy for the most part. Low 90s on four-seam, two-seam, and cutter. Also throws a slider, curve, and change, but sticks mostly to the fastball (81 percent of his pitches). Not amazing strikeout numbers in the majors and has been plagued by high walk numbers.

Key Stats:

Only 5 Orioles have ABs versus Drabek (Markakis, Wieters, Roberts, Jones, and Reynolds). Only Roberts has multiple hits. Fairly limited numbers for the Toronto lineup versus Matusz as well. Yunel Escobar is 2-2 with a HR and 4 RBI. As an aside, it’s safe to say Troy Patton should not see Jose Bautista in this series. Bautista is 3 for 5 with 3 HR and 5 RBI off of the Orioles lone bullpen lefty.