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Monday night Orioles game thread: @ Blue Jays, 7:07 ET

It’s more formidable competition from the AL East.

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Baltimore Orioles Reggie Hildred-USA TODAY Sports

As a team, the Toronto Blue Jays seem a lot scarier than “currently in third place in the AL East” sounds. Their pitching staff has the best ERA in the American League (3.76) and leads MLB in strikeouts per nine innings. Former Oriole Kevin Gausman is among the AL Cy Young frontrunners, and Hyun Jin Ryu, who’ll be activated off the IL on Tuesday, is twice a top-3 finisher for the Cy Young. As an offense, the Blue Jays rank third in the AL in average, fifth in OPS, and fourth in wRC+. They’re getting strong seasons at the plate from Whit Merrifield (.304 average), Matt Chapman (.820 OPS), and Bo Bichette (who leads the team with a .318 average, .492 slugging and .842 OPS).

As Stacey pointed out in her series preview, since June 15th, when these teams last met, the Blue Jays have played .600 ball, but they’ve only gained a half-game on the O’s in that stretch and remain 5.5 games back. Thus far, the O’s have dominated the season series, going 5-1 against Toronto. Baltimore has seven more games against the Blue Jays this year, four this week and three in late August. I wouldn’t mind seeing the winning ways continue.

With a Kyle Gibson start, you often don’t know what you’re getting, but the right-hander is usually good at surviving blows without getting knocked out of the game too early. Over his last five starts, he’s 1-1 with 16 runs allowed in 30.1 innings. For what it’s worth, his FIP of 3.75 in that stretch is a full run lower than his ERA, and batters are hitting just .228 off of him. In one of his best recent outings, on Tuesday he threw six innings against Philadelphia and allowed just two runs on four hits and no walks while striking out five.

This past offseason, former Met Chris Bassitt, you might remember, was part of that class of mid-tier starting pitchers some people like to link to the Orioles. Instead, he signed for three years with Toronto. The 34-year-old’s numbers as a Blue Jay have been just OK: a 3.91 ERA, 118 K’s in 126.2 IP, and a 1.21 WHIP, though his 4.60 FIP does suggest pretty abundant good luck has made him look better than he is. The one time Bassitt faced the Orioles, on June 13, they whupped him thoroughly, scoring eight runs in three innings on 11 hits, including three home runs. The right hander has severe lefty-righty splits (.897/.554 OPS), which is why you’ll find the batter’s box crowded with lefties tonight.

Orioles lineup

1. Adley Rutschman C
2. Gunnar Henderson 3B
3. Anthony Santander RF
4. Ryan O’Hearn 1B
5. Ryan Mountcastle DH
6. Adam Frazier 2B
7. Austin Hays LF
8. Colton Cowser CF
9. Jorge Mateo SS

Blue Jays lineup

1. Whit Merrifeld 2B
2. Bo Bichette SS
3. Brandon Belt DH
4. Vlad Guerrero, Jr. 1B
5. Matt Chapman 3B
6. Daulton Varsho LF
7. Alejandro Kirk C
8. Cavan Biggio 2B
9. Kevin Kiermaier CF