O’s facing tough customer tonight in Morrow

The Orioles are facing a tough pitcher at Toronto tonight in 27-year-old right-hander Brandon Morrow. He led the American League last year in strikeouts per nine innings at 10.19 and leads the majors in that stat over the last two seasons at 10.53.

Morrow pitched seven innings allowing just one hit and two runs that were unearned in his first start on Saturday at Cleveland. The Indians loaded their lineup with lefty batters against him but they went a combined 1-for-19 against Morrow in that game. The Orioles have four lefty hitters in their lineup tonight.

Over his last four starts, dating to last year, Morrow is 2-0 with an ERA of 0.64 giving up just two earned runs over 28 innings.

But last year, the Orioles scored 13 runs in 11 innings against Morrow, with nine earned, when he had an ERA of 7.36 vs. Baltimore.

Some other notes at the start of this weekend series:

* The Orioles are 4-23 over the last three years in Toronto, going 1-8 in 2009, 0-9 in 2010 there and 3-6 last year. The Orioles are only 5-29 in their last 34 games at Rogers Centre. But they are 3-4 over the last seven games. So, yes, I’m saying there is a chance.

* Four of the first six Orioles games have been decided by two runs or less. The Orioles went 2-0 in those games against the Twins but 0-2 versus the Yankees.

* The Oriole starting pitching ERA is 2.58 through six games, to rank third best in the American League and eighth best in baseball.

* Toronto, despite a team average of just .202 so far, has managed to go 4-2 and score 29 runs in those six games. One key reason is a team batting average of .362 with runners in scoring position.

The Orioles are batting just .180 (9-for-50) with RISP as J.J. Hardy is 0-for-7, Matt Wieters is 0-for-4 and Adam Jones and Nick Markakis are both 0-for-3.

Orioles road record, 2009-2011, in AL East:
13-14 at Tampa
8-19 at Boston
6-21 at New York
4-23 at Toronto

Tonight’s Blue Jays starter, Brandon Morrow, is the MLB leader the last two years in strikeouts per nine innings:
10.53 - Brandon Morrow, Tor
9.46 - Clayton Kershaw, LAD
9.45 - Tim Lincecum, SF
9.34 - Yovani Gallardo, Mil

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