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Saturday afternoon Orioles game thread: @ Blue Jays, 3:07pm ET

The Orioles look to capture their 11th series victory of the season as they take on the Blue Jays in Toronto.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Kansas City Royals Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Ever since the bitter ending of the 2016 Wild Card game, Toronto has hardly been a welcoming place for the Orioles. Heading into the 2023, the Orioles were 17-28 in Rogers Centre since Buck Showalter made the ill-fated decision to pitch Ubaldo Jimenez instead of Zach Britton in that winner-take-all playoff match up. However, the first 45 games of this season have been a referendum on all those who expected the Orioles to backslide toward mediocrity. In a similar manner, Friday night’s win over the Blue Jays in Toronto can be seen as a turning of the tide when it comes to the O’s success north of the border.

What seemingly never changes is just how locked in Ryan Mountcastle is when he steps up to the plate against the Blue Jays. After going 1-3 with the decisive three-run HR on Friday, the O’s first baseman raised his career average against the Toronto to .323, to go along with a 1.030 OPS, 15 HRs and 36 RBIs. After hitting .313 with a 5 HRs and 17 RBIs in Rogers Centre last season, RMC seems intent to continue to victimizing Blue Jays pitching in 2023.

Today, Mountcastle and the rest of the Orioles lineup are tasked with doing damage against one of the AL’s best pitchers from last season in Alek Manoah. After finishing third in AL Cy Young voting last year, Manoah’s start to the 2023 campaign has been less than spectacular. After putting up mixed results in the first month of the season—two quality starts balance out by two truly poor start—Manoah’s disappointed throughout May. In three starts this month, the big right-hander is 0-3 with a 6.59 ERA and .321 batting average against. These struggles from Manoah are a welcome sign to the Orioles hitters that struggled against the All-Star pitcher last year. In five starts against Baltimore last year, Manoah limited Orioles hitters to a .180 average on his way to 2.54 ERA against the Birds from Baltimore.

The Orioles counter with their own flaming-throwing righty in rookie Grayson Rodriguez. The O’s prized rookie starter has been equally up and down throughout his first eight big league starts. We’ve seen some excellent efforts—back-to-back starts of five shutout innings against Detroit, only allowing two runs in 5.2 innings against league best Tampa Bay—to go along with some less-than-stellar outings. Last Monday against the Angels was Rodriguez’ worst start of the season, allowing eight runs over 3.1 innings against Shohei Ohtani and the Angels. The good news: Rodriguez has been better overall on the road this season. His ERA away from Camden Yards is over 1.5 runs lower and he’s put up strikeout rate of over 12 per nine innings on the road.

Orioles Lineup

  1. Cedric Mullins (L) CF
  2. Adley Rutschman (S) C
  3. Anthony Santander (S) RF
  4. Ryan Mountcastle (R) 1B
  5. Adam Frazier (L) 2B
  6. Gunnar Henderson (L) 3B
  7. Ryan O’Hearn (L) DH
  8. Terrin Vavra (L) LF
  9. Jorge Mateo (R) SS

Starting Pitcher: Grayson Rodriguez (2-1, 6.57 ERA, 1.73 WHIP)

Blue Jays Lineup

  1. George Springer (R) RF
  2. Bo Bichette (R) SS
  3. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (R) 1B
  4. Brandon Belt (L) DH
  5. Matt Chapman (R) 3B
  6. Danny Jansen (R) C
  7. Daulton Varsho (L) LF
  8. Santiago Espinal (R) 2B
  9. Kevin Kiermaier (L) CF

Starting Pitcher: Alek Manoah (1-4, 5.40 ERA, 1.80 WHIP)