ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Do the Orioles go with a more conventional lineup tonight in Toronto or place particular emphasis on defense and ignore the splits?
Manager Buck Showalter went with defense Sunday while also considering the career reverse splits of Rays right-hander Jake Odorizzi, who traditionally has fared better against left-handers. He put Joey Rickard in left field and Craig Gentry in right, which also provided defensive upgrades over Hyun Soo Kim and Seth Smith, and the return was huge.
Rickard and Gentry made crucial plays in the corners and contributed at the plate, the former breaking a ninth-inning tie with a run-scoring double. Gentry doubled and laid down a sacrifice bunt.
Blue Jays right-hander Joe Biagini is making his 10th career major league start tonight, all of them this season, and 84th appearance. He’s 2-6 with a 4.45 ERA and 1.181 WHIP in 62 2/3 innings this year.
Left-handers are batting .330 against Biagini and right-handers are hitting .260. Kim and Smith probably will return to the lineup based on those numbers.
Biagini entered the rotation on May 7. He made four relief appearances against the Orioles before changing roles and didn’t allow a run in 4 2/3 innings. He’s 0-1 with a 2.45 ERA and 1.727 WHIP in 12 career games against the Orioles, with three earned runs (four total) and 16 hits in 11 innings.
As a starter this year, Biagini has gone 2-5 with a 4.91 ERA and 1.273 WHIP in 44 innings. He’s 0-1 with a 3.38 ERA and 0.964 WHIP in 18 2/3 relief innings.
Biagini is 1-3 with a 2.93 ERA and 1.048 in 27 2/3 innings at home and 1-3 with a 5.66 ERA and 1.286 WHIP in 35 innings on the road.
Kevin Gausman has faced the Blue Jays three times this season and allowed five runs over 17 1/3 innings, with 20 hits, seven walks and 12 strikeouts. He won his only decision.
Gausman is 3-3 with a 3.90 ERA and 1.460 WHIP lifetime in 15 games (10 starts) against the Blue Jays over 62 1/3 innings. He’s 1-3 with a 4.89 ERA and 1.514 WHIP in nine games (six starts) at Rogers Centre over 35 innings.
The current Jays are batting .312 (39-for-125) against Gausman. Kevin Pillar is 8-for-17 (.471) with a double, Josh Donaldson is 7-for-21 (.333) with two doubles and a home run, Darwin Barney is 6-for-13 (.462) with a home run and Russell Martin is 5-for-16 (.313).
José Bautista is 4-for-21 (.190) with a double and home run.
Right-handers have posted a .371 average against Gausman this year and left-handers are hitting .274. Gausman is 1-4 with a 9.00 ERA and 2.138 WHIP in seven road starts over 29 innings.
Welington Castillo is going to be behind the plate tonight after Caleb Joseph caught on Sunday. For what it’s worth, Gausman has a 3.96 ERA in 41 games with Joseph catching, and opponents are batting .257. He has a 7.14 ERA in 10 games with Castillo catching, and opponents are batting .350.
The Orioles are 23-17 against the American League East, including 7-2 versus the Jays. They took three of four on April 13-16 at Rogers Centre. Gausman, Wade Miley and Dylan Bundy were the winning pitchers.
Closer Zach Britton allowed a run and two hits last night in the eighth inning at Double-A Bowie. He also struck out a batter.
Britton gave up a double on a misplayed fly ball, so don’t read too much into the run. HIs fastball has climbed into the mid-90s..
Britton will pitch again for the Baysox on Thursday and move to Single-A Frederick on Friday.