Blue Jays-Orioles Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated August 23, 2012
The Toronto Blue Jays were at the .500 mark with hopes of making a run at the postseason when Jose Bautista got hurt. More than two months and a considerable drop in the standings later, Toronto hopes its slugger can provide a much-needed jolt in the lineup. Bautista is expected to return as the slumping Blue Jays visit the Baltimore Orioles in the opener of a three-game series Friday night. Toronto was 45-45 and very much in contention for one of the AL's wild-card spots before Bautista sprained his left wrist in a loss to the New York Yankees on July 16. The Blue Jays (56-68) have since gone 11-23 and hit .229 as a team, and they've lost five straight and 19 of 24 following Thursday's 3-2, 11-inning loss to Detroit. They've scored more than three runs in only five of those contests, and Colby Rasmus endured an 0-for-26 slump before his fourth-inning single. "Everyone here knows the battles we've had, the struggles we've had currently on the offensive side, but that doesn't take away from the way we prepare," manager John Farrell told the team's official website. Toronto hopes the return of Bautista, who was hitting .244 with 27 homers before the injury, can provide a spark to a lineup that continues to remain positive. "We haven't had a few key hits when we needed them and it's cost us a couple ball games, but we're playing good ball," outfielder Anthony Gose said. "There's nothing for us to really hang our heads about." Baltimore (67-57) remains confident after splitting a six-game road trip at Detroit and Texas despite falling 12-3 to the Rangers on Wednesday. Nick Markakis is hitting .444 during a seven-game hitting streak after going 3 for 4 and driving in all three runs. The Orioles are tied with Detroit and Oakland for the second wild-card spot. "It's a great road trip against these two teams," Markakis told the team's official website. "It's definitely good. We could have won a game or two more, but we can't hang our heads." Baltimore will look to bounce back against Blue Jays starter Carlos Villanueva, who has pitched well despite going 0-3 with a 3.55 ERA over his last four starts. Villanueva (6-3, 3.10 ERA) allowed two runs and four hits in 6 1-3 innings of Saturday's 2-1 loss to Texas, pitching six full innings for the seventh time in his nine starts this season. "Going out there, going six, seven innings every time and giving the guys a chance to win is what we get paid for as starters, especially," Villanueva said. The right-hander will be opposed by Zach Britton, who is coming off his best outing of the season. Britton (2-1, 6.23) allowed six hits in seven scoreless innings of Saturday's 3-2 win over Detroit - a welcomed performance after giving up 20 runs over his previous three starts. "There wasn't any panic in his eyes," manager Buck Showalter said. "He had a presence." The left-hander's lone start versus Toronto was an 8-4 loss on June 3, 2011, when he lost to Villanueva after allowing seven runs in five innings. It's unclear if Britton will have Matt Wieters as his catcher after Wieters was hit with a foul ball in the right shoulder Wednesday. X-rays were negative and he's listed as day to day.
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Report: Yankees close to trading Aroldis Chapman

WATCH: Dontrelle Willis' great reaction to Giancarlo Stanton home run

Reports: Sale cut up throwback uniforms with knife in protest

WNBA withdraws fines for teams that protested gun violence

Ezekiel Elliott: ‘Evil NEVER prevails’


Orioles, Padres reportedly talking trades of Melvin Upton, Cashner

Le’Veon Bell reportedly missed ‘several’ drug tests

Report: Islanders looking at locations to build new arena

Top five takeaways from this year's NBA Summer League

NCAA rules that hanging out with Drake is violation

WATCH: Justin Bieber arm wrestle Sixers center Joel Embiid

Report: Royals didn't invite Johnny Cueto to White House visit

Solo not taking any chances with Zika virus while in Rio

Rays reportedly demanding Profar in pitching deal with Rangers

Facebook doesn’t know the difference between Liverpool and Arsenal

Report: Teams asked about Wade Davis, asking price very high

Aussie Rules Football player accidentally kicks, breaks own leg

Former Arkansas football assistant trolls Bobby Petrino on social media

Could Clayton Kershaw's injury hinder trade talks?

Spurs strike a new deal with NBA stalwart Manu Ginobli

George makes return to Team USA following leg injury

Why the Clippers shouldn't break up their big three

White Sox pay homage to Bo Jackson’s bat-breaking skills with bobblehead

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Effect of ban on Russia could span beyond the Olympic Games

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

QUIZ: Name every city to host the NBA All-Star Game

One Gotta Go: NBA players settle the fast food beef

One Gotta Go: NBA players make tough choices on their favorite rappers

One Gotta Go: NBA Summer League is not about that Game of Thrones life

The top NHL free agents available as offseason winds down

WATCH: NBA jersey sponsors that need to happen

Expansion draft playing heavy hand in the current NHL offseason

WATCH: Pop & Timmy have a guys' night out

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker