O’s game blog: The final road trip of 2019 begins

TORONTO - The Orioles have won just four road series all year - they are 4-16-4 - but tonight they return to the scene of two of those series victories.

The Orioles are opening a three-game series in Toronto at Rogers Centre, where they went 2-1 from April 1-3 and won two of three from July 5-7. They are 4-2 at Rogers Centre a year after going 0-10 in the building. They were out-homered 35-20 and outscored 63-28. They had series when they went 0-4 and 0-3 twice north of the border in 2018.

The Orioles took two of three from Seattle over the weekend, winning a series anywhere for the first time since they won two of three versus Kansas City Aug. 19-21.

Tonight, as the final road trip begins, they try to do something they have not since the season’s first road trip. That is win back-to-back series. That happened to start the year when the Orioles went 4-2 at Yankee Stadium and Rogers Centre. Since then, they have not won back-to-back series.

The Orioles (51-105) beat Seattle 2-1 Sunday as John Means and Richard Bleier teamed on a seven-hitter and Chris Davis hit a tie-breaking home run. The O’s are 5-7 the last 12 games. They are 26-49 on the road and 21-49 against the American League East.

The Orioles are 7-9 versus Toronto this year and have lost six of the last eight meetings. They got swept by the Blue Jays last week in Baltimore as their bullpen got torched in that series. Over 11 2/3 innings, the ‘pen allowed 20 runs (18 earned) and 22 hits.

In those three games, Toronto’s Cavan Biggio went 8-for-16 with a double, triple, homer and eight RBIs. In that series, the O’s Trey Mancini went 8-for-13 with three doubles, a homer and nine RBIs.

Toronto (63-93) lost the last two games against the Yankees over the weekend after winning Friday’s series opener. The Blue Jays are 7-4 the last 11 games, but 11-20 over their past 31. They are 31-44 at home, where they are 6-15-3 in 24 series.

Shepherd-Delivers-White-Sidebar.jpgRight-hander Chandler Shepherd (0-0, 4.91 ERA) will make his fourth appearance and second start for Baltimore. The first was last Tuesday in a no-decision against Toronto. Over four innings he allowed four hits and three runs and gave up homers to Randal Grichuk and Biggio.

Claimed on waivers from the Cubs May 22, Shepherd has allowed a .235 batting average (4-for-17) against lefty hitters and .308 (8-for-26) against right-handed hitters.

Shepherd was originally selected by the Boston Red Sox in the 13th round (No. 404 overall) of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Kentucky. He was ranked No. 70 in Baseball America’s 2014 Preseason NCAA Top 100 Players. Born in Ashland, Ky., he attended Lawrence County (Ky.) High School, where he also played football, basketball, track and golf.

This year for Triple-A Norfolk, Shepherd was 3-5 with a 4.60 ERA in 14 games, 12 of them as the starter. He was named the International League’s Player of the Month for August. In five starts, Shepherd went 3-1 and led all qualifying starting pitchers with a 1.62 ERA, 0.90 WHIP and a .181 opponents batting average.

Right-hander Clay Buchholz (1-5, 6.48 ERA) is set to make his 11th start for Toronto. His last one was Wednesday at Baltimore and did not go well for him. Over 3 2/3 innings, Buchholz allowed seven runs and 10 hits and gave up a solo homer to Jonathan Villar and two-run shot to Anthony Santander. The Blue Jays are 4-6 in his 10 starts.

In 68 career games at Rogers Centre, the O’s Chris Davis has hit 20 home runs - his most at any road ballpark. His 41 career home runs and 101 RBIs against the Blue Jays are the most against any opponent. Of Davis’ 67 hits at Rogers Centre, 37 are extra-base hits. He owns a .965 OPS at the ballpark, including four three-hit games and one two-home-run game. Davis faced Hall of Famer Roy Halladay in his first career game at Rogers Centre, a 5-4 win for the Texas Rangers on April 21, 2009.

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