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News » Orioles-Blue Jays Preview 2009-05-02

Orioles-Blue Jays Preview 2009-05-02

Orioles-Blue Jays Preview 2009-05-02
In the midst of a major overhaul of their banged-up starting rotation, the Toronto Blue Jays are still atop the AL East.

With plenty of pitching problems of their own, it's no surprise the Baltimore Orioles are back at the bottom.

The visiting Orioles will try to avoid a fifth straight loss overall Saturday in Toronto, where they've dropped three straight and seven of their last eight.

With a large portion of their starting staff injured and some replacements struggling, the Blue Jays (16-9) shook up their roster Friday with a trio of moves.

One of the callups was Robert Ray, a right-hander who will make his major league debut Saturday. Drafted in the seventh round in 2005, the 25-year-old Ray threw 4 1-3 scoreless innings in his lone start with Triple-A Las Vegas this year.

That was his first appearance above Double-A, where he was 8-6 with a 3.18 ERA last season.

Shaun Marcum and Dustin McGowan are in the midst of extended absences for Toronto, while fellow starters Jesse Litsch and Ricky Romero also remain on the disabled list.

Roy Halladay is their lone healthy regular, and he helped pitch the Blue Jays to an 8-4 win in Friday's series opener - their first game against an AL East opponent this season.

"I think everybody would like to have about 10 Docs around," Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said. "That's impossible but we do have one, so we've got to enjoy him."

Toronto's resurgent offense also helped carry Halladay, as Adam Lind homered and Kevin Millar had three RBIs. Lind is among the AL leaders with 22 RBIs, while the Blue Jays' 150 runs this season lead the majors.

Those numbers don't bode well for Baltimore in the rest of this three-game series, especially since it's already lost 12 of 15 overall and against Toronto.

While the Orioles (9-14) haven't had as many injury problems with their pitchers, they've had plenty of issues on the mound. They've ranked 29th in the majors in team ERA each year from 2006-08, and that figure this season rose to 5.88 after Friday's defeat.

"We're definitely not making the big pitch when we need to," said Baltimore catcher Gregg Zaun, who's playing his first series against Toronto after spending the last five seasons with the Blue Jays. "Balls in the heart of the plate in key counts to the wrong hitters and they're making us pay."

Brad Bergesen (1-0, 5.59 ERA) won his big league debut April 21, but struggled mightily Sunday against Texas. The right-hander gave up five runs, 10 hits and three homers in four-plus innings, although the Orioles came back to win 8-5.

"He was probably too strong because he didn't have his good sink," Baltimore manager Dave Trembley said. "So that tells me he was probably trying to either overthrow or was too strong."

Baltimore got off to a strong start, but its recent woes dropped the Orioles back into the division cellar after Tampa Bay beat Boston on Friday night. They finished last in the AL East in 2008 - 18 1/2 games behind the fourth-place Blue Jays.

One bright spot for Baltimore is Nick Markakis' hitting streak, which he extended to 17 with a home run Friday. A hit Saturday would give him the longest streak of his career.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: May 2, 2009

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