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Series Preview: Blue Jays @ Orioles

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Toronto Blue Jays (10-6, T-1st AL East) @ Baltimore Orioles (9-7, 3rd AL East)

After dropping just their second series of the year in Anaheim, the Orioles head back home to take on the Toronto Blue Jays for the second time this season. At 10-6, the Blue Jays are tied with the New York Yankees atop the AL East division. The Orioles have dropped to third place after losing the series 2 games to 1.

After a fairly decent start, the bats really went silent in California, totaling just 9 runs on a 21-101 (.208) clip for three games. Considering that the pitching wasn’t extremely effective, 3 runs per game will not win many ballgames. The Orioles will need decent starts from Matusz and Hunter if they wish to remain competitive in the series (and the offense remains non-existent). Meanwhile, Toronto is fresh off of a four-game sweep of Kansas City. They’ve gone 5-2 since dropping the first series to the Orioles.

Three game set begins tonight at 7:05pm. Tommy Hunter will try to regain his form against Henderson Alvarez. Games two and three are also at 7:05pm on Wednesday and Thursday. Hammel and Matusz are the scheduled Orioles starters.

Game 1 (Tuesday @ 7:05pm):

Probable Pitchers:

TOR – Henderson Alvarez (0-1, 4.66 ERA)

BAL – Tommy Hunter (1-1, 5.79 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. So far this season, he has relied mostly on the two-seamer and slider, but hasn’t missed many bats, racking up just 3.7 K/9.

Key Stats:

Chris Davis is now 4-5 with a double and a home run off of Alvarez after a 2-3 performance earlier this season. Limited success elsewhere in the lineup (Mark Reynolds is 1-6 with 4Ks). Hunter faced Toronto in the first series and allowed 4 solo home runs. Toronto hitters, for the most part, have solid numbers vs. Hunter, but he’s been solid against the bigger bats of Jose Bautista and Adam Lind.

Game 2 (Wednesday @ 7:05pm):

Probable Pitchers:

TOR – Kyle Drabek (2-0, 2.00 ERA)

BAL – Jason Hammel (2-0, 2.37 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. Continuing that trend in 2012 with 5 walks per 9 innings (although is generating better strikeout numbers).

Key Stats:

Drabek picked up his second win of the season against the Orioles on April 15th, holding them to just 2 runs on 6 hits. Oriole hitters have gone just 10 for 40 lifetime against Drabek. Adam Jones has the lone home run, but he’s just 1 for 7 overall. Kelly Johnson extended his good numbers vs. Hammel and is now 6 for 17 with a double and a home run. Brett Lawrie went 2 for 2 in the first meeting.

Game 3 (Thursday @ 7:05pm)

Probable Pitchers:

TOR – Drew Hutchison (1-0, 8.44 ERA)

BAL – Brian Matusz (0-1, 9.00 ERA)

Scouting Report:

Getting an opportunity to pitch due to injuries in the Toronto rotation. Won his first MLB start despite allowing 5 runs in 5.1 innings. Threw mostly fastballs over that time, but mixed in some sliders and changeups. Not particularly high walk totals in the minors, but walked 5 in his first start.

Key Stats:

Toronto tagged Matusz for 5 runs in 5.2 innings on April 15th. Yunel Escobar is now 4 for 5 with 4 RBI. Brett Lawrie and Edwin Encarnacion also have home runs. This will be the O’s first game versus Hutchison.