Remember that last series with the Toronto Blue Jays? That was annoying, wasn’t it?
In case you either missed it altogether or used a Men In Black neuralizer to wipe the events from your memory, here’s the skinny: the Orioles led 4-3 going into the eighth and lost 8-5, then led 9-5 going into the ninth and lost 11-10, and then were tied 2-2 going into the seventh before Toronto scored six runs to roll to what became an 8-4 loss for Baltimore.
So, not what you want to see. But this is baseball, and what is baseball if not another chance to get back on the horse and try again?
They’ll get that chance as they start their season-concluding road swing at the Rogers Centre. As you may recall, the Jays have been something of an all-or-nothing team; they’re dead-last in the majors with a .237 team average, yet are 11th in baseball with 234 home runs. That played out in the last series, as Orioles starters would carve right through the lineup, only for the Jays to get their belts in against the woeful bullpen.
Providing those belts have primarily been Randal Grichuk (30 home runs), Teoscar Hernandez (23) and Justin Smoak (22), but the Jays also have power coming from their hyped trio of youngsters of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (15), Bo Bichette (11 in 196 at-bats) and Cavan Biggio (15).
For the Orioles, it’s hard to point at anything other than the bullpen as a series key. If the Birds had anything but a complete dumpster fire waiting to come into the game, they likely win — if not sweep — that previous series. Knowing how the teams match up, the relievers in question will probably get their chances again this time. It’ll be on them to get the job done.
Game 1: Monday, 7:07 p.m.
Chandler Shepherd (0-0, 4.91 ERA) vs. Clay Buchholz (1-5, 6.48 ERA)
Shepherd will be making his second career start, both against the Blue Jays. He last went on Tuesday and made it four innings while allowing three runs on four hits, including two home runs, while striking out four. We’ll see if he can apply what he learned from a first time against the Jays’ lineup, or if that familiarity will benefit Toronto instead.
Buchholz got the start Wednesday against the Orioles and got shelled, allowing 10 hits and seven runs, all earned, in 3.2 innings. Two of those hits left the ballpark. The O’s led 7-1 when he left the game. We thought they would win. We were young then.
Game 2: Tuesday, 7:07 p.m.
Dylan Bundy (6-14, 4.89 ERA) vs. Anthony Kay (1-0, 5.79 ERA)
Bundy got the start opposite Buchholz on Wednesday and turned in as hard to evaluate an outing as you could get. On one hand, he kept the Jays largely off the board, allowing only one run in five innings, and he struck out eight. On the other, he was constantly in trouble, surrendering five hits and five walks, which played a key role in his only lasting the five innings. So, what do you grade a 1.80 ERA and 2.00 WHIP?
Let’s accentuate the positive. He left the game with a 97 percent chance of earning the win. All you can ask.
Kay pitched four innings in relief on Thursday and got the win, allowing two runs on four hits in four innings while striking out three. Like Shepherd, he’ll be making only his fourth career appearance, as well as his third career start.
Game 3: Wednesday, 7:07 p.m.
Gabriel Ynoa (1-9, 5.65 ERA) vs. Jacob Waguespack (4-5, 4.75 ERA)
Ynoa, for all of his struggles, turned in a fine outing on Thursday, holding the Jays to three runs on six hits in 6.1 innings. He still got stuck with the loss after getting no bullpen help from Tanner Scott and Dillon Tate, who gave up five runs in a grand total of two-thirds of an inning.
Waguespack has lost his last four decisions, though the Blue Jays won his last start against the Yankees on Friday. He allowed three runs on four hits in five innings while striking out six.
How many games will the Orioles win this series against the Blue Jays?
This poll is closed
3 (The Orioles will sweep)
0 (The Orioles will get swept)