Well, the Orioles survived their mini-seven game road trip, going 3-4, though a series win at Camden Yards North eased the pain of three straight losses at the Rogers Centre.
The O’s are currently riding the burro down the valley of a brutally tough start to June, where Buck Showalter’s boys have played the Red Sox, Yankees, Royals, Jays, Red Sox and finally the Jays in succession, going 10-7 to stay afloat atop the AL East. I LIKE THAT!
The Jays, though easy to dislike, are good at baseball, and are probably playing their best baseball of 2016. Toronto has won 10 of their last 15 games, and after apparently being very upset losing to the Phillies 7-0 in the series opener on Monday, reeled off three straight wins outscoring the Phils 31-7 in the final three games.
Edwin Encarnacion is heating up, Josh Donaldson is hot and Michael Saunders continues to hint the breakout hype was worth the noise. Both teams score, and we can expect more runs.
Mike Wright (3-3, 5.31 ERA) vs. Aaron Sanchez (6-1, 3.38 ERA)
Wright certainly didn’t do himself any favors hinting that the Encarnacion has “holes” in his swing. It isn’t wise to slander one of the best hitters in baseball when throwing anything over the plate is the primary hole in your game, but hey, at least he’s optimistic.
O’s fans probably won’t be as optimistic to see Wright take the mound against the Jays once again, a week after he was tagged for four runs in 5 innings, while walking five and only striking out three.
And it’s not like his struggles on Saturday were an aberration. He doesn’t do well against the Jays.
A lot of baseballs find the outfield with a lot of success, and there is no evidence to say that it shouldn’t continue tonight. WEEEEEEELP.
On the other side, Aaron Sanchez brings a lot to like from the Jays side and much to be worried from the Orioles side. Yes, the O’s did get to Sanchez for six runs and 10 hits, including four home runs over five innings on Sunday, but Sanchez’s sinking two-seam fastball is very, very good.
The Orioles four home runs in their last meeting account for half of the home runs he’s surrendered all year, so it’s hard to imagine the Bash Birds repeat the feat. He’s a nearly 60% ground ball pitcher and has a plus-curveball to boot, but the Orioles know him, so who knows. You can’t doubt the Baltimore lineup anymore.
Yovani Gallardo (1-1, 7.00 ERA) vs. R.A. Dickey (4-7, 4.60 ERA)
Say what you will about Gallardo’s sheer stuff, but his presence in the rotation should help to at the very least smooth things out. Back from a lengthy DL stint with tendinitis in his pitching arm, Gallardo won’t be expected to change much, but a steady improvement through each of his three rehab starts isn’t a bad thing.
Gallardo’s biggest pain in the butt has been Encarnacion, who’s hit him pretty darn good, including three home runs, but against the current Jays roster he’s allowed a measly .195 opposing batting average and uncharacteristically solid 19.4 K%. Not bad, eh!
As for Dickey, we can only go off of how the knuckleball drifts on any given day, but R.A. isn’t Steven Wright. Maybe R.A. means runs allowed?
TBA vs. Marcus Stroman (6-2, 4.76 ERA)
No more Ubaldo leaves a hole in the Orioles rotation, though it’s a hole the Orioles are glad to fill with literally anyone else. Chris Tillman will be coming off five full days of rest, so he’s probably going to be the guy, but MLB.com decided to spell his name “TBA”, so here we are.
Though the Jays have been Tillman’s arch-nemesis in recent memory, Tilly’s doing much to show last season was more of a one-miss wonder. He’s throwing harder, using his slider with more frequency and his curveball is becoming more of a weapon than a show pitch. Tillman last faced the Jays on April 21, going strong six innings while allowing only two runs on four hits, so maybe his Canadian ornithophobia has subsided.
Marcus Stroman is really good, though his numbers haven’t caught up to his peripherals (90 FIP-, 3.83 xFIP). He’s a reputable ground ball guy (career 57.1 GB%), but the home run has been an issue for Stroman.
The Orioles have accounted for three of the eight dingers he’s given up thus far, namely Pedro Alvarez, Manny Machado and Matt Wieters. Sunday afternoons at Camden Yards are often weird, and when the Orioles play the Jays, weirder things usually happen. WATCH OUT, SUNDAY COULD GET WEIRDEST.