Orioles’ bats look to break out tonight vs. Toronto and Villanueva (updated)

Yes, it is a very, very small sample size, but it’s the last four games, and the Orioles’ bats that were going good for most of this month have slowed down. We’ll see if that small sample size can begin to be forgotten if they get some offense tonight.

Over the last four games, the Orioles have scored 10 runs and are batting just .185 (5-for-27) with runners in scoring position. They had few chances, but went 0-for-4 with RISP in being shut out last night.

Before this stretch, the Orioles had scored 39 runs during a six-game win streak.

Tonight, the Orioles face 28-year-old Blue Jays right-hander Carlos Villanueva. He is 7-6 with a 3.88 ERA on the year over 37 games and 15 starts.

He has not pitched well this month. After he went 5-4 with a 2.83 ERA over 10 starts in June and July, Villanueva is 0-2 with a 7.36 ERA in September. In his last start, on Friday on the road against Tampa Bay, he gave up seven runs in just 2 1/3 innings.

Some Orioles have good stats against Villanueva:

* J.J. Hardy is 8-for-15 with four doubles, a homer and one RBI.
* Chris Davis is 5-for-8 with a double, two homers and three RBIs.
* Mark Reynolds is 5-for-14 with two homers and four RBIs.
* Adam Jones is 4-for-13 with two doubles and four RBIs.

In two starts this year against the Birds, Villanueva is 0-2 with an ERA of 7.30. The Blue Jays are 8-7 in his 15 starts this year, but are just 2-5 over his past seven.

But Villanueva has good stats on the year, allowing an opponent average of just .238, and 115 strikeouts in 120 2/3 innings. He gives up an average against of just .188 when pitching with runners in scoring position.

The Orioles have fared well twice against the right-hander this year. In this big game tonight, as they look to get their offense back on track, can they do it a third time?

Through four: The Orioles had just two hits over the first four innings tonight and the game was tied 1-1 heading to the fifth. Nate McLouth led off the last of the first with a homer and it’s his ninth career leadoff homer.

Adam Jones doubled to right with two outs in the fourth to end a run of ten in a row retired by Villanueva. But Matt Wieters struck out to strand Jones in the O’s first at-bat in this game with a runner in scoring position.

O’s offense explodes in the fifth: Well, the Orioles and their nervous fans needed that: a three-homer, five-run explosion in the last of the fifth to open a 6-2 lead. Jim Thome’s 612th career homer tied it, Manny Machado’s fifth career homer put the O’s ahead and Chris Davis’ 145th career homer was a three-run shot to make it 6-2.

In the first four innings, the Orioles went 2-for-13 versus Villanueva. In the fifth, they knocked him out, going 5-for-7 with three longballs.

Yes, that was a big and very important inning. You can breath again O’s fans.

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