O’s game blog: Tyler Wilson faces Marcus Stroman in road trip opener

TORONTO - The Orioles have been a much better team at home than on the road this year. Beginning tonight they have a chance to improve on that. The American League East leaders begin a four-game series in Toronto tonight against the defending division champs. This trip then heads to Fenway Park for a three-game series against Boston.

It is a rather important trip where the Orioles will face their closest pursuers in the AL East. At 35-23, the Orioles are a season-high 12 games over .500. They lead the division by 1 1/2 games over Boston with Toronto in third place, 4 1/2 games back.

The O’s are 24-11 at home this year, going 8-1-2 in 11 series. They are 11-12 in road games, going 4-4 in eight series away from Camden Yards.

The O’s begin the trip with momentum. They swept Kansas City three straight and have a four-game win streak by a combined 20-3 score. O’s pitchers have allowed just two earned runs the last four games allowing in order one, one, one and zero runs.

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Toronto begins this series at 32-29, one year after winning the division by six games at 93-69. Toronto lost the first two games of its last series at Detroit, but won 7-2 on Wednesday afternoon. The Blue Jays had nine hits after going four straight games with five hits or less and batting .131 over that stretch. Toronto had won five series in a row before losing the series at Comerica Park.

The Blue Jays rank second in the AL in starting rotation ERA at 3.68. They rank first in the league in innings pitched by their rotation at 394 2/3 innings. But Toronto has allowed 100 runs from the seventh inning on to rank last in the AL.

On the mound tonight it is a matchup of right-handers with Tyler Wilson (2-5, 4.39 ERA) facing 25-year-old Marcus Stroman (5-2, 4.82 ERA).

Wilson has lost four consecutive starts, going 0-4 with a 6.35 ERA over 22 2/3 innings. He lost Saturday at home versus the Yankees, allowing seven hits and five runs over four innings.

Wilson has recorded four quality starts in eight starts for the year and the Orioles are 3-5 in those eight games. In three career appearances (one start) versus Toronto, Wilson is 0-0 with a 2.08 ERA over 8 2/3 innings.

Stroman has struggled recently, allowing six runs or more in two straight and three of his past four starts. His last two outings both were against Boston and he gave up 13 runs and 20 hits in 11 innings. In the last four starts, he is 1-2 with a 7.77 ERA. His ERA was 3.54 his first eight starts of this season.

A first-round draft pick (22nd overall) in 2012, Stroman is 1-1 with a 6.39 ERA in six home starts. In four career games (three starts) versus Baltimore, he is 2-1 with a 3.24 ERA in 25 innings.

The Orioles took two of three from Toronto - with all three games decided by one run - in Baltimore from April 19-21. They outscored the Blue Jays 10-9 and outhomered them 2-1 in the series. Manny Machado went 6-for-12 with three doubles a homer and Joey Rickard went 7-for-14.

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