Orioles-Blue Jays Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated September 13, 2013
An untimely three-game losing streak has damaged the Baltimore Orioles' postseason hopes. A 10-game road trip may just determine them. The Orioles open that seemingly rough stretch by trying to end a four-game losing streak at Rogers Centre on Friday night, when they face the last-place Toronto Blue Jays. Baltimore (77-69) won four of five after beating the New York Yankees 4-2 on Monday. However, they followed that by losing the next three games of that series, giving up the decisive run in the top of the ninth of Thursday's 6-5 defeat on a wild pitch by closer Jim Johnson. Instead of gaining ground in the wild-card race, the Orioles are tied with Kansas City 2 1/2 games back of Tampa Bay for the AL's second spot. They also now have to overtake the Yankees and Cleveland in their final 16 games. "Obviously, at this stage losing three is not ideal," second baseman Brian Roberts said. "I think guys definitely feel a little bit down right now. We'll have to come out with some good energy (Friday)." That's certainly true for this key road trip, which includes three games in Toronto (67-79) and AL East-leading Boston before a four-game set against the Rays. The Orioles have dropped nine of their last 12 on the road and are 2-5 at Toronto this year. "We've just got to start rattling off some wins," first baseman Chris Davis said. "This is definitely going to be a big road trip." Davis has done his part, going 5 for 10 with one homer and four RBIs over the past three games after going 6 for 37 (.162) while driving in two runs over the previous 10. Facing the Jays may keep Davis hot since he's a career .335 hitter against them, and his 18 homers and 45 RBIs in 55 games are his highest totals against any opponent. Davis owns a .387 average in 22 visits to Toronto, and is 15 for 35 (.429) with six homers and 14 RBIs during a 10-game overall hitting streak against the AL East rival. He's also homered in three straight meetings, collecting seven RBIs. Production at the plate will likely be key since Baltimore is scheduled to give the ball to Jason Hammel (7-8, 5.11 ERA), who is replacing Bud Norris due to right elbow discomfort. Hammel hasn't won since beating Washington on May 27, going 0-6 with a 5.43 ERA in 10 starts before landing on the disabled list with right forearm tenderness on July 31. The right-hander returned Sunday with two scoreless innings of relief in a 4-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox. He's 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA while serving up seven homers over his last three starts against the Blue Jays, giving up six runs in six innings of a 7-3 home loss July 13 in the most recent one. The Blue Jays are coming off a three-game sweep at the hands of the Los Angeles Angels, dropping the finale 4-3 on Thursday. The rotation compiled a 10.54 ERA while allowing five homers in the series. Todd Redmond (3-2, 4.40) will try to stop Toronto's skid, and the 28-year-old rookie right-hander has won his last two starts while allowing five runs in 10 2-3 innings. That was an improvement after he surrendered a career-high eight runs in 3 1-3 innings of a 12-4 loss at Houston on Aug. 23. He allowed three runs and homers to Davis and Adam Jones in four innings opposite Hammel on July 13.
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