The visiting Toronto Blue Jays will be out to improve on their 5-2 advantage in the season series with the Baltimore Orioles when the teams open a three-game series Tuesday night.
The Orioles, however, might be a team gaining some confidence in a losing season after completing a 4-6 road trip that could have been better.
The Blue Jays ended a 6-4 homestand with a sloppy 5-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday as they failed to complete a three-game sweep.
“Coming into the series, I was thinking and the whole team was thinking to take at least two out of three,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. “And we did so I’m really pleased, because that’s one of the best teams in baseball. Today, it wasn’t our best game but yeah, I’m pleased with two of three.”
“It’s huge,” said Blue Jays left-hander Robbie Ray, who allowed two runs in seven innings on Sunday. “If you win every series during the year, then you’ll be in a good position come the end of the year.”
The Blue Jays will start left-hander Steven Matz (7-3, 4.60 ERA) on Tuesday. He has never faced the Orioles in his seven-year career. The Orioles have not named a starter.
Baltimore would like to win a series against Toronto this time.
After dropping three of four games to the Blue Jays June 24-27 at Buffalo that at least ended a 20-game road losing streak, the Orioles have been way up and way down, continuing their road trip with a three-game sweep of the Houston Astros before completing it with three losses — including two walkoff defeats — against the Los Angeles Angels.
Baltimore lost the first and third games of the Angels series in the bottom of the ninth. The loss Sunday was the most painful.
Orioles center fielder Cedric Mullins, who will be going to his first All-Star Game, tied the game Sunday with a pinch-hit single in the sixth and gave Baltimore the lead with his 15th homer this season in the ninth. But the Angels won 6-5 in the bottom of the ninth against Cole Sulser on a two-run double by Juan Lagares.
“Sulser had been pitching pretty well for us,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “He had a tough time in the ninth inning. He walks (Jose) Iglesias. Iglesias doesn’t walk. That can’t happen, and then got hit after that.”
That did not diminish the accomplishment of Mullins, who received more votes on the players’ All-Star ballots than any other outfielder.
“It was an All-Star performance,” Hyde said. “Got a day off, comes in, pinch hits in the sixth, huge hit for us, and then he’s facing an elite closer (Raisel Iglesias), and homers for us in the ninth inning. It’s a game we should have won.
“I’m really proud of our guys, how we battled back, our hitters. I thought we did some nice things on the mound until that ninth inning. Got the lead, didn’t hold up.”
“This has been a tough road trip for us, facing the lineups that we had,” said Thomas Eshelman, the Orioles’ starting pitcher on Sunday. “We’ve shown that we can fight and hang with these teams. It’s going to be nice to return to Baltimore, but we fought and we were in every single game of this road trip. It was nice to see.”
–Field Level Media