MLB

Orioles-Blue Jays Preview

TORONTO -- Edwin Encarnacion and Chris Davis have taken over the four-game series between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Baltimore Orioles.

Encarnacion hit two home runs, had an RBI double, two walks and five RBIs Saturday to help the Blue Jays to an 11-6 win, their second in a row over the Orioles.

"Tremendous day, the last couple of weeks we've played good baseball," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "The sky's not falling."

Davis was 2-for-3 with a two-run homer, a double and a walk for the Orioles.

Each has three home runs in the first three games of the series with the Orioles trying to leave Toronto with a split by taking the finale on Sunday at Rogers Centre.

The game Sunday has big implications in the American League East race. With a 15-4 win over the Minnesota Twins on Saturday, the Boston Red Sox moved into a first-place tie with the Orioles. Toronto sits third, 3 1/2 games behind.

Both the Blue Jays and Orioles have been dealing with overworked bullpens during the series. Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna was not available to pitch Saturday and that left Jason Grilli to close the game. By the time Grilli's turn came in the ninth, the Blue Jays had a five-run lead. Osuna should be available Sunday.

Grilli has earned the spot as the setup man for the time being.

"He's going to pitch some valuable innings for us, the eighth inning," Gibbons said. "He knows what he's doing. You give a veteran guy like that a fresh start, it can rejuvenate you."

The Orioles were forced to use left-handers T.J. McFarland and Brian Duensing against such good Toronto right-handed hitters as Encarnacion and Josh Donaldson on Saturday. Donaldson hit the go-ahead sacrifice fly against McFarland who then allowed Encarnacion's decisive three-run homer in a five-run sixth. Duensing allowed back-to-back homers to Encarnacion and Michael Saunders in the eighth.

Right-handers Mychal Givens and Dylan Bundy were unavailable with some question about their possible use on Sunday. Right-hander Brad Brach could have pitched one inning Saturday, but later on in the game.

Another twist is that Showalter was saving right-hander Vance Worley for possible long relief duty on Sunday. The Orioles are starting right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, and he has not pitched beyond 5 2/3 innings in his past six starts. There is a good chance the bullpen will be taxed again. So the game Sunday had an impact on the game Saturday.

"There were about three we couldn't use," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "That's why they're good and that's why they're healthy. You don't like facing those guys (Donaldson and Encarnacion) with (McFarland) and Duensing but we had no choice today."

Showalter suggested the Orioles were considering going to the minors for some bullpen help.

The Orioles have been without setup man and right-hander Darren O'Day, who has been on the disabled list with a strained hamstring since June 3.

"It's one of the challenges of not having Darren," Showalter said. "We've been able to overcome it. We're a right-hander short down there, but hopefully he'll get back (soon)."

Jimenez is 8-6 with a 3.87 ERA in 14 career outings, including 13 starts, against the Blue Jays. But he has not reached the sixth inning since May 7 and in his past six starts this season he is 1-3 with an 8.44 ERA.

Meanwhile, the Blue Jays are going with right-hander Aaron Sanchez, who pitched into the ninth inning in a no decision against the Detroit Tigers last Tuesday and had a career-best 12 strikeouts.

It could be another big day for Davis to step forward for the Orioles. He is 5-for-7 with two home runs against Sanchez.

In eight career games, including three starts, against the Orioles, Sanchez is 1-2 with a 5.14 ERA.

The Blue Jays have been without right fielder Jose Bautista since he left the game Thursday for a pinch runner in the sixth inning with tightness in his right thigh area and his status for Sunday is uncertain..

"It's feeling better but he's not quite right so we'll buy him one more day," Gibbons said before the game Saturday.

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