The Baltimore Orioles could use a better effort from Joe Saunders as they try to continue an improbable surge toward the top of the AL East. The recently-acquired left-hander will try to bounce back from a difficult Baltimore debut Monday when the Orioles open a three-game road set against the Toronto Blue Jays. Baltimore (74-59) was third in the East and 7 1/2 games behind the New York Yankees as recently as Aug. 3, but has since won 19 of 27 to cut that deficit cut that deficit to two. The Orioles took two of three in the Bronx over the weekend as Mark Reynolds hit four homers, including two in Sunday's 8-3 victory. The Orioles, seeking their first winning record and postseason appearance since 1997, currently occupy one of the AL's two wild card spots.
Saunders (6-11 4.46) idn't have much fun in his Baltimore debut Wednesday. The Chicago White Sox tagged the left-hander - acquired from Arizona on Aug. 26 - for seven runs and 10 hits over 5 1-3 innings of an 8-1 loss. ncluding the end of his Diamondbacks tenure, Saunders is 0-3 with a 12.00 ERA in his last three starts. Saunders will now face Toronto (60-73) for the first time since 2010. He's 2-4 with a 3.83 ERA in seven career starts versus the Blue Jays.
He'll try to help the Orioles end their recent struggled in Toronto, where they have dropped 33 of their last 40 games including a three-game sweep May 28-30. Baltimore leads the overall season series 7-4, including a two-game sweep at Camden Yards from Aug. 24-25. In this contest, Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ (10-10 4.77) will try to win his fourth consecutive decision. The left-hander is 3-0 with a 3.75 ERA over his last four outings. He gave up four runs and five walks to New York over five innings Wednesday but got five runs of support from his teammates and credit for an 8-5 victory. The Blue Jays dropped their final two games to Tampa Bay over the weekend at Rogers Centre, allowing all the runs in Sunday's 9-4 defeat over the first four innings. Toronto had won four of five before the two losses to the Rays.
A bit of a steep price in this afternoon's Labor Day matinee, however with the roof likely open at the Rogers Center expect the ball to carry out to the corners where hitters this season have taken advantage. The O's may be hitting just .245 but have plenty of pop up and down their lineup where it begins with Adam Jones (.283 26 68). Jones recently ended a major slump and now looks to contribute in Baltimore's quest towards the AL East title. Same holds true for Chris Davis (.256 23 65) and Mark Reynolds (.223 16 49) who homered twice in yesterday's series clincher against the Yankees. Nick Markakis (.300 13 52) leads the team in hitting though his overall numbers are down, but JJ Hardy (.229 18 54) and Matt Wieters (.239 18 67) provide plenty of balance and have been instrumental in the clutch. JA Happ will need to continue to be sharp needing run support as the Blue Jays lineup has been decimated by second half injuries. Edwin Encarnacion (.288 37 95) continues to build on career highs in 2012 providing most of the offense since Jose Bautista (.241 27 65) saw his season come to an end because of a wrist injury that requires surgery. Colby Rasmus (.231 21 69) has had some key game winning hits however his average is nowhere near his career mark. Given the luck Saunders has had as of late, Toronto could continue to play the role of spoiler. Best of luck however you play!