O’s game blog: Orioles need a win to avoid a sweep

TORONTO - The post-All-Star break portion of the Orioles schedule has not started well. With back-to-back losses in Toronto, they’ll need a win today to avoid being swept in three straight.

The Orioles lost four straight at Rogers Centre last month by a combined 27-11 score, although two of those losses were by a run in 10 innings. Then they lost 8-7 in 10 innings here Friday and 4-1 yesterday when they were held to five hits and didn’t score after the first inning.

Toronto (45-52) won Saturday without a home run for just the third time and is now 3-23 in such games. The Blue Jays are 8-1 against the Orioles and have won six in a row. It is the Jays’ longest win streak over Baltimore since taking 12 in a row during the 2010 season. Toronto is 6-0 at Rogers Centre versus the Orioles, who are 1-8 in their last nine games at the ballpark.

Toronto began this series with six losses in its previous eight games. But with the two wins this weekend, the Jays are now 26-25 at home, 16-25 against the American League East and 6-9 this month.

Right-hander Alex Cobb took the loss Saturday and is 2-13 with an ERA of 6.17. He is the major league leader in losses and the Orioles are 3-15 in his 18 starts. The Orioles rotation has just one quality start the past 13 games and an ERA of 6.71 in that span.

cashner-gray-in-dc-sidebar.jpgRight-hander Andrew Cashner (2-9, 4.56 ERA) returns from the disabled list today to make his 19th start. He’s been on the DL since July 11 for a neck strain and he got an injection to ease the discomfort. Casher said he did some throwing over the All-Star break and threw a bullpen Friday at Rogers Centre. He said he’s ready to re-enter the rotation this afternoon,

In his last start on July 10 against the Yankees, he gave up five hits and five runs in 6 1/3 innings on 96 pitches. But Cashner had delivered five quality starts in his previous six starts before that game with an ERA of 3.18.

He has nine quality starts for the season, but the team is just 5-13 in his games. In eight road starts he is 2-4 with a 4.01 ERA. In two 2018 games against Toronto he is 0-1 with a 2.08 ERA. Cashner is 1-1 with a 2.42 ERA in four career starts versus Toronto with 18 strikeouts in 26 innings while holding Blue Jays batters to a .244 average.

Left-hander J.A. Happ (10-6, 4.29 ERA) gets the ball for the Blue Jays. In five June starts he went 3-0 with a 3.16 ERA and .183 batting average against. But in three starts this month, Happ is 0-3 with a 9.75 ERA and .352 average against. In 12 combined innings against Detroit, New York and Boston, he gave up 19 hits and 18 runs (13 earned) and four home runs.

Happ has thrown very well in two 2018 starts against Baltimore. He is 2-0 with an ERA of 0.69 and 0.92 WHIP. Over 13 innings, he has yielded seven hits and two runs with five walks to 12 strikeouts.

On the farm, Triple-A Norfolk’s starting pitchers have not allowed an earned run in four games in their current series with Rochester. The quartet of John Means, Sean Gilmartin, Lucas Long and David Hess has combined to fire 20 shutout innings

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