Series Preview: Toronto Blue Jays (5-5) @ Baltimore Orioles (4-5)


Apr 8, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays left fielder Melky Cabrera (53) celebrates their victory with center fielder Colby Rasmus (28) and right fielder Jose Bautista (19) against the Houston Astros at Rogers Centre. The Blue Jays beat the Astros 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

So that was a nice almost comeback. I liked the way Dickey pitched…save for two pitches. That was the problem last year so please let this be a blip on the radar. The slumps continue for the most part with the same hitters (Brett Lawrie, Colby Rasmus, Edwin Encarnacion) and those hitting continued to do so (Melky Cabrera) or walked a lot (Jose Bautista). The pitching held up with Brandon Morrow and Mark Buehrle doing well and the bullpen was decent for the most part. It would be nice to be above .500 and to sweep a team we are supposed to sweep but oh well. Here we are.

Probable Starting Pitchers

Game 1: Dustin McGowan (0-1, 13.50 ERA) vs Chris Tillman (1-0, 1.35 ERA)

The Jays are playing extra cautious with McGowan as they stretch him out. He didn’t fare too well against the Yankees in his first start a week ago but as we have read all week there is a chance he was tipping his pitches. He says he has made the adjustment so hopefully an outing of 6 innings and around 80-90 pitches isn’t beyond the realm of possibility. It’s going to be a tough test against the solid lineup that the Orioles will be putting out there.

Making this start even more difficult will be facing arguably the ace of the Orioles staff, Chris Tillman. Tillman in 2 starts has given up two runs total: 1 solo shot in each game. He knows how to limit the damage and gives up less than a hit an inning so far. He gets better as each year passes and unless the Jays bats wake up and knock a couple balls out of the bandbox that is Camden Yards, this could be an easy win for the O’s.

Game 2: Drew Hutchison (1-1, 6.23 ERA) vs Bud Norris (0-1, 9.00 ERA)

One good and one not so good. Hutchison kind of got away from himself against the Yankees. Something about that uni that makes people tremble just a little. He is still trying to command his pitches better and the adjustment from spring training where he was killing it has worn off slightly. He is more than capable of tossing deep into the game as long as his fastball is working. If he can get his WHIP down to the type of number he put up in his minor league career (1.09) he stands a chance. All it will take is some pounding of the strike zone.

On the other side of the diamond Bud Norris takes the mound. The former ace of a crappy Astros team has not turned into the ace of this rotation. Facing the AL East over and over will do that to a guy. His ERA is creeping upwards from his Astros career numbers and likely will not be getting much better. He would make a great back end addition to an AL East starting 5 but for now he is getting exactly what he wanted….flirting and a drink… haha. Yes he has the desire but without sleep there is no thrill. I looooove me some bacon.

Game 3: Mark Buehrle (2-0, 0.64 ERA) vs Ubaldo Jimenez (0-2, 6.75 ERA)

After that massive trade last year who figured we would end up at this. Mark Buehrle is pretty much the only thing that has worked out due to the trade. Sure Jose Reyes will be his usually 120 game self but for sure reliability it’s Buehrle. If he keeps this pace up he may be in line for his best start to the season ever. The Orioles can mash and should give him a run for his money but as long as he is able to spot his fastball and throw his changeup anywhere in the count it should be just fine.

After seeing Ubaldo Jimenez so far I am sure there are many Blue Jays fans happy as a pig in the proverbial slop. He may turn it around but he is falling into the same inconsistencies that plague his career. He is streaky. he walks a ton of batters and gives up an average amount of hits as well. So far he is not off to the greatest start with 8 walks in two starts. Let’s hope Jimenez tows the 2014 line and our hitters beat him into submission with some long ball. Advantage Jays.

Probable Starting Lineups

Toronto Blue Jays

1. LF: Melky Cabrera
2. 2B: Maicer Izturis
3. RF: Jose Bautista
4. 1B: Edwin Encarnacion
5. DH: Adam Lind
6. C: Dioner Navarro
7. 3B: Brett Lawrie
8. CF: Colby Rasmus
9. SS: Ryan Goins

Baltimore Orioles

1. RF: Nick Markakis
2. SS: J.J. Hardy
3. 1B: Chris Davis
4. CF: Adam Jones
5. LF: Nelson Cruz
6. C: Matt Wieters
7. DH: Delmon Young
8. 2B: Jonathan Schoop
9. 3B: Ryan Flaherty

Worth The Price of Admission: Melky Cabrera. He leads the Blue Jays in hits so far this season, having hit at least one in every game this season. He is hustling, taking the extra base and playing a decent left field. This is the player Alex Anthopoulos was hoping to get when he was signed a couple seasons ago. He has held down the lead off spot very well in Reyes’ absence and when he returns to the 2 slot our 1-4 looks as strong as anyone’s in baseball. Me like.

Worth the Price of a Can of Spam: Colby Rasmus. Home run aside, he is striking out at an alarming rate like last year only this time ther aren’t some big hard hits to go with the strikeouts. His defense is great but hitting-wise he is making people wonder if last year was the breakout season and the best of his career. The potential is long but will it ever be fully realized(see Morrow, Brandon).