Mike Wright on his poor outing, J.J. Hardy on returning to the Orioles (updated)

It was a little over a year ago when Orioles right-hander Mike Wright pitched 14 1/3 scoreless innings over his first two big league starts. But his current struggles reached another low point tonight.

He gave up a career-worst eight runs and six hits, including three homers, over just 3 2/3 innings. The team that has tormented him before did it again, as he took the loss in the Orioles’ 13-3 defeat against Toronto. His last two starts have come against this team and Wright has allowed 12 runs in 8 2/3 innings.

The frustration level, naturally, is extremely high for Wright and his postgame interview, like his outing tonight, was rather short.

Wright was asked why he struggled against the Blue Jays. “Um, they’re a really good team,” he said

How did he feel about his mechanics and location? “I threw some good pitches, threw some bad pitches. They hit them both,” he said.

Was there anything he could pinpoint that went wrong? “I mean I had a walk. Gave up three home runs. Gave up too many runs,” Wright said.

How difficult is this stretch for him right now? “Yeah, I’m working harder than ever, you know,” he said. “When you are working harder than ever and you get those results, it’s tough.”

Is it even more frustrating to have had the good start against Kansas City, but now two poor ones versus Toronto? “Yeah, absolutely. I mean, that is when the hard work started. Got really good results at first and then ran into the Blue Jays twice,” he said.

That was that. End of interview for the 26-year-old right-hander who pitched seven scoreless innings versus Kansas City just three starts ago. But now his ERA is up to 6.12 for the season. In six career games against Toronto, he is 0-4 with an ERA of 9.28. In 11 career games versus American League East teams, he is 1-6 with an ERA of 10.46.

Toronto is 5-3 against the Orioles this year and has scored 34 runs in winning the last three times the teams have played. Since the start of the four-game series last Thursday at Rogers Centre, Toronto has scored 43 runs in five games versus the Orioles.

hardy-black-looking-up-after-home-run-home-sidebar.jpgThere was better news across the Orioles clubhouse tonight. Shortstop J.J. Hardy said he expects to be activated off the disabled list tomorrow after missing time with a fractured left foot.

“I mean, I felt really good today,” Hardy said. “Played those last three days in Bowie and each day was better than the previous. I was excited about that improvement and today was really good. So I guess it doesn’t really need to get much better than what it was today. But if it gets better than that, great.”

Is Hardy running at 100 percent right now?

“Yeah, I felt like I was running pretty good today. Better than I expected,” he said.

If Hardy does play Saturday, it will be his first Orioles game since May 1. He was been rehabbing the injury at the Orioles’ spring training complex in Sarasota, Fla., before he headed north to join Bowie. He worked out at Camden Yards before tonight’s game. He was pleased that he was able to play a full nine innings last night, his last game with Bowie.

“Good just to see how it was today,” he said. “To play the full nine last night and then be able to run around like I was today, you know it’s good. It’s time if my ankle is ready. I say ankle because that is kind of what I was dealing with. The (fractured) bone has been fine for a week and a half. Yeah, I mean I feel like I’m ready to go.”

Toronto outfielder Michael Saunders recorded the first three-homer game of his career tonight and drove in a career-high eight runs. It was the 19th three-homer game in Toronto franchise history and first since Edwin Encarnacion on Aug 29, 2015 versus Detroit. Of Saunders’ last 36 hits, 19 have gone for extra bases. This year against the Orioles, Saunders is batting .545 (18-for-33) with six doubles, five homers and 12 RBIs. Saunders has 15 homers on the year and has hit five in his last four games versus Baltimore pitching.

Right-hander Yovani Gallardo (1-1, 7.00 ERA) is set to come off the disabled list and make his first start tomorrow since April 22. We will see if he can slow down this Toronto team as he pitches against R.A. Dickey (4-7, 4.16 ERA).

Update: The Orioles have optioned Wright to Triple-A Norfolk.

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