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Orioles-Blue Jays series preview: Headed to the Great White North

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The Orioles look to continue their recent success, this time on the road. First up: Toronto.

After a successful homestand in which the Orioles went 7-3, our guys are headed on the road for seven-game road trip against two division rivals, starting with the Blue Jays.

The Jays got off to a slow start this year, going 11-14 in April. They've turned it on since then and now sit at 32-29, 4.5 games behind the Orioles in the A.L. East. Needless to say, if either team manages to sweep this four game series it could really change the divison's look.

We've been used to Toronto being an offensive powerhouse, but that hasn't actually been the case this year. As a team they are averaging 4.13 runs per game, which is 10th in the A.L. Since May 1st that number has been 4.22. They have some players underperforming and/or on the disabled list (Troy Tulowitzki, shocker). Russell Martin in particular is having a bad year, hitting just .195/.264/.280.

But they still have their core of bashers, led by Jose Bautista of course. Also having good years at the plate are Josh Donaldson, Michael Saunders, and Justin Smoak. So far Edwin Encarnacion is having a bit of a down year, but he still has 12 home runs.

Game 1: Thursday, June 9th, 7:07 PM

Tyler Wilson (2-5, 4.39 ERA) vs. Marcus Stroman (5-2, 4.82 ERA)

Tyler Wilson is having a rough go of late. In the span of four starts his ERA has gone from 2.93 to 4.39. His worst outing of the year came last Saturday against the Yankees, when he was knocked out the game in the fourth inning.

Speaking of a rough go, Marcus Stroman is having his troubles as well. Over his last four starts he has an ERA of 7.77 and opponents are OPS'ing .975 against him. That's not to say that he hasn't had good games, earlier in the season he was getting much better responses, including a seven-inning performance against the Orioles in which he got the win

I went over to Bluebird Banter to try and find some answers on why Stroman is so up and down and found an article titled Marcus Stroman, a tale of two pitchers. It includes a lot of speculation but can't come to a specific conclusion. So I guess we'll have to keep our fingers crossed that we get bad Stroman.

Game 2: Friday, June 10th, 7:07 MP

Kevin Gausman (0-3, 3.52 ERA) vs. Marco Estrada (4-2, 2.41 ERA)

Unlike Stroman, Marco Estrada hasn't been struggling much this year. He has yielded good results in nearly all of his starts this year, though based on some of his numbers that may not last the full season. He's allowing a league-low hits per nine innings which is aided by a BABIP of just .191. Additionally he has just 7.4% home run rate, which pretty low for him based on his career averages.

That's not to say the Orioles should expect an easy task. He has been getting the job done all year so far.

Game 3: Saturday, June 11th, 1:07 PM

Mike Wright (3-3, 5.14 ERA) vs. J.A. Happ (6-3, 3.57 ERA)

Oh Mike Wright. Just when we all had written you off, you came back with seven innings with only one unearned run allowed against the Royals on Monday. Can that performance possibly be duplicated? The odds are not in his favor, let's admit it.

J.A. Happ has been very steady for the Jays this season so far. He is coming off of a terrible game against the Tigers in which he gave up six runs in five innings, but aside from that he's basically been giving them 6-7 innings with 1-3 runs in his starts.

Game 4: Sunday, June 12th, 1:07 PM

Ubaldo Jimenez* (3-6, 6.21 ERA) vs. Aaron Sanchez (5-1. 2.91 ERA)

Aaron Sanchez has been pitching like an ace this season, which prompted Jeff Sullivan to write a story titled, "Aaron Sanchez is Looking Like an Ace." Told you!

Since becoming a full-time starter this season he has increased his strikeout rate and lowered his walk rate, two things that will generally help a guy find success. Add that to inducing a boatload of grounders and you can see why he's been good.

Ubaldo Jimenez hasn't been good in his last two starts, but he has been...interesting. Two starts ago he dominated the Red Sox for five innings before giving up five runs faster than Buck could get anyone up in the bullpen. And against the Royals he struggled every single inning but somehow only gave up one run in five innings.

*There is a non-zero chance that Yovani Gallardo could start this game instead, as he is traveling with the team and may not need another rehab start. I think it'll be Jimenez, though.