O’s game blog: Homestand begins with Toronto series opener

The Orioles hope a return to Oriole Park at Camden Yards for a six-game homestand also means a return to winning. They host Toronto tonight in the opener of a three-game series. Minnesota will follow the Blue Jays for another three-game series.

The start of tonight’s game is being delayed by a threat of rain in the area. First pitch is set for approximately 7:30 p.m.

The Orioles have had three homestands, going 4-1, 4-2 and 5-0 in the last one against the White Sox and Nationals. Their 13-3 home record is the best in the major leagues and they’ve won six in a row at home. Tonight begins a stretch where they will play 15 of their next 18 games at Oriole Park.

They are coming off a 1-6 road trip which featured six loses by one run and one win by two runs in 13 innings. The Orioles are 10-13 on the road.

O’s starting pitchers have struggled recently with just one quality start in the last eight games. The rotation ERA is 6.59 in that stretch with O’s starters averaging just a little over five innings per start.

tillman-pitching-black-back-sidebar.jpgOn the mound tonight, right-hander Chris Tillman (1-0, 2.89 ERA) makes his third start and faces right-hander Aaron Sanchez (0-1, 2.95 ERA), who makes his fifth. Both pitchers have spent time on the disabled list this year with Sanchez making two trips to the DL.

In his season debut on May 7, Tillman gave up three hits and no runs in five innings versus the White Sox. On Saturday at Kansas City, he allowed eight hits and three runs over 4 1/3 innings. But he has thrown 198 pitches in those two games to average 21.2 per inning. O’s pitchers have struggled to keep their pitch counts down this season, especially in recent games.

In his last start on Sunday versus Seattle, Sanchez went five innings, allowing one unearned run on 78 pitches. On the year, he has thrown 18 1/3 innings, allowing 16 hits and six earned runs with seven walks, 14 strikeouts and a .232 average against.

Sanchez went do the DL the first time due a blister on his right middle finger. He split a nail on the same finger that led to the second DL stint.

In 2016, Sanchez was 15-2 and led the AL in ERA at 3.00. In 14 starts last year versus the American League East, he went 8-0 with a 2.66 ERA.

The Orioles (23-16) begin play today in second place in the AL East, 1 1/2 games behind the Yankees. Toronto (18-24) is in last place in the division, eight games behind New York. The O’s are 15-9 in games within the division while the Blue Jays are 8-14 against the AL East.

The Orioles took five of six games versus Toronto last month. They outscored the Blue Jays 26-14 and have pitched to an ERA of 2.29 in the games. They’ve held José Bautista to a 3-for-24 (.125) with eight strikeouts. Kendrys Morales is 3-for-20 (.150) on the year against Baltimore pitching.

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