Blue Jays-Orioles Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated July 12, 2013
Stuck in last place in the AL East, manager John Gibbons expressed concern following the Toronto Blue Jays' latest loss. He knows things aren't about to get any easier with a visit to Camden Yards. The Blue Jays try to get back on track Friday night when they open a three-game set against Chris Davis and the Baltimore Orioles. After posting 11 consecutive victories, Toronto (44-47) has lost 11 of 17 to fall three games back under .500. The Blue Jays went 5 for 28 with runners in scoring position while dropping two of three at Cleveland, falling 4-2 in Thursday's finale. "We didn't hit a home run in the series," said Gibbons, whose team is 12-22 when failing to homer. "When you look at it, when we win, we hit home runs. Our bats have gone cold in the last week. We've had some spurts but overall we're not swinging it real well." Jose Bautista is mired in a 2-for-19 slump and Edwin Encarnacion is 2 for his last 18. "Those are the guys the team revolves around but two guys can't do it all the time," Gibbons said. Toronto is now 11 1/2 games behind East-leading Boston, and Gibbons believes his team is in danger of falling out of contention. "We're right on that edge," he told MLB's official website. "We have to start winning some games. We have three more before the break, but Baltimore has a pretty darn good team, too, and it's in their home park." While the Blue Jays have taken four straight from the Orioles (51-42), they've dropped nine of 12 in Baltimore since the start of last season. Manger Buck Showalter's club is coming off its 18th home win in 25 tries, 3-1 over Texas on Thursday. Davis snapped an 0-for-17 skid with his major league-leading 34th homer and Brian Roberts also went deep. Davis, who drove in his 86th run, has already surpassed his previous career highs of 33 homers and 85 RBIs set last season. His home run total is the highest in baseball before the All-Star break since 2001, when Barry Bonds had 39 and Luis Gonzalez hit 35. "We know he's talented, but to have 34 and 86 before the break is just crazy," Roberts said of Davis, who is batting .380 with 12 homers and 25 RBIs in his last 26 games versus Toronto. "It's been fun to watch." The Orioles now turn to Chris Tillman (10-3, 3.92 ERA), whose seven-game winning streak was snapped Saturday in a 5-4 loss at Yankee Stadium. The right-hander yielded five runs and a career worst-tying 10 hits in 5 1-3 innings Tillman is 2-0 with a 2.89 ERA in his last three starts versus Toronto. Bautista is 6 for 15 with two homers in their matchups, and Encarnacion is 4 for his last 9. The Blue Jays counter with Mark Buehrle (5-5, 4.50), who has allowed two runs or fewer in four of his last six starts. The left-hander threw seven innings of six-hit ball to beat Minnesota 4-0 last Friday. Buehrle is 7-5 with a 2.97 ERA in 16 career starts against the Orioles, but he hasn't faced them since 2011. Nick Markakis is 13 for 31 with two homers in their matchups, and Davis and Nolan Reimold are a combined 9 for 18, each taking him deep once. Blue Jays reliever Steve Delabar will join Bautista, Encarnacion and fellow reliever Brett Cecil at Tuesday's All-Star game after winning the AL final vote. Delabar is 5-1 with a 1.74 ERA in 37 relief appearances. Bautista is a career .179 hitter at Camden Yards, his lowest average at any AL ballpark.
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