Orioles-Blue Jays Preview
TORONTO -- The Baltimore Orioles made a detour through Minnesota before heading to Toronto for their important three-game series against Blue Jays that opens Friday at Rogers Centre.
The Orioles lost a makeup game 6-2 to the Twins on Thursday night at Target Field and have dropped three in a row, including the final two games of a three-game series against the Colorado Rockies at Camden Yards.
The Blue Jays are second in the American League East, 1 1/2 games behind the Orioles.
Toronto also goes into series on a losing note.
The Blue Jays failed to complete a sweep against the San Diego Padres on Wednesday afternoon and are 3-3 after the first six games of their nine-game homestand.
The Blue Jays changed their rotation Wednesday, preferring to with knuckleballer R.A. Dickey against the Padres on three days' rest and moving Marco Estrada (5-4, 2.94 ERA), and his wonky back, from Wednesday to Friday to face Baltimore. Dickey was not sharp and the Blue Jays lost 8-4.
The move served another purpose.
Russell Martin, who has a sore knee, caught 12 innings of a 7-6 win on Tuesday and was not going to play Wednesday. Josh Thole, Dickey's regular catcher, was going to spell Martin anyway on Wednesday even if Estrada pitched.
"With Russ' knee, he wasn't going to Wednesday no matter what, so that factors, too," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "Now you can catch Thole, and we'll go with our three best guys over the weekend, too. And it gives Marco -- who has had the back issues but feels much better -- another day, too."
In their loss at Minnesota, the Orioles had two runners thrown out at home in the fourth inning. But they also got two hits from Chris Davis, which they hope is an encouraging sign.
Davis has 22 homers for the season but is 5-for-37 with one RBI since the All-Star break, and has not hit a home run since July 10.
Against the Blue Jays, however, Davis is batting .303 with 35 homers and 81 RBIs. He has hit 17 homers at Rogers Centre.
Mark Trumbo, who leads the American League with 30 homers, also has struggled. He went 1-for-4 Thursday and is in a 6-for-44 skid over 12 games, although he did hit home runs Friday and Saturday.
"I think you just have to understand that with power, you're going to have periods where everything's clicking," Davis said, "where you're swinging the bat well, you're driving in runs, and you're going to have periods where you're going to have dry spells. The tough thing about having a guy like Mark right behind me is we both swing and miss a lot. So when one of us is going well, it's good, but when neither one of us is going well, it's bad. I think we just have to grind through it."
The Orioles will start Kevin Gausman (2-7, 3.77 ERA) on Friday.
Gausman is 2-1 with a 3.00 earned-run average in 10 career games, including five starts, against the Blue Jays. In six games, including three starts, Glausman is 0-1 with a 3.60 ERA at Rogers Centre.
The Blue Jays won three of four games June 9-12 in the Orioles' first visit to Toronto this season and the teams have won five games each overall.
Estrada missed one start before the All-Star break because of a sore back and returned on July 22, allowing seven hits and two runs over six innings in a 2-1 loss to the Seattle Mariners. It was the first time since April 21 that he had allowed more than five hits in a start, a total of 13 outings. Estrada is 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA in eight career games, including six starts, against the Orioles.