Manager: John Gibbons, second year
Last 10 games: 5-5
Who to watch: RF Jose Bautista (.258/.459/.581, 6 HR, 13 RBIs); SS Jose Reyes (.273/.273/.364, 2 RBIs); RHP Drew Hutchison (1-1, 3.60 ERA, 24 K); RHP R.A. Dickey (1-3, 6.26 ERA)
Season series vs. O’s: 2-1, 14 runs scored, 5 runs allowed
April 22: R.A. Dickey vs. Miguel Gonzalez, 7 p.m., MASN2 HD
April 23: Dustin McGowan vs. Chris Tillman, 7 p.m., MASN2 HD
April 24: Drew Hutchison vs. Bud Norris, 1:30 p.m., MASN2 HD
The last time the Blue Jays faced the Orioles, they ranked among the majors’ most powerful teams - perhaps a product of playing six of their first nine games indoors in Toronto.
The Jays return home for the first time since April 10 having seen their offense slide to the middle of the pack during a nine-game road trip to Baltimore, Minnesota and Cleveland. Back in the climate-controlled confines, Toronto’s power is likely to return with a lineup that includes the likes of Jose Bautista and Melky Cabrera.
But while the dip toward the middle transpired on offense, the Toronto pitching staff has continued an upward trend that began with the sixth contest of the season, helping the team remain one of only two American League East teams above .500.
The Blue Jays have pitched to a 3.42 ERA with three shutouts over their last 14 games. Had they pitched that well over the first five games of the season, their team ERA would rank eighth in the majors.
Buehrle isn’t scheduled to pitch in this series, however, with struggling knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, 23-year-old Drew Hutchison and veteran Dustin McGowan set to face the Orioles. Dickey has surrounded one excellent start against the Yankees with three duds, posting a 6.26 ERA through four outings. McGowan, coming off a so-so contest at the Twins, faces O’s ace Chris Tillman in the middle contest.
Hutchison has allowed just two runs in 11 1/3 innings over his last two starts. He’ll pitch against the Orioles in the finale.
As was illustrated the last time these teams met, the Jays don’t have a problem turning to their bullpen with the likes of Cecil and Redmond able to shut down opponents once starters depart.
But back indoors, those pitching trends could be at risk with two powerful lineups set to go head-to-head.