07/26/10 7:49 PM ET
Orioles looking to break through against Jays
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
Toronto has managed to take the first 10 games in the season series against Baltimore, marking just the sixth time in franchise history that the Blue Jays have won 10 straight against any given opponent. Toronto has outscored the Orioles 57-21 thus far -- including a 9-5 win on Monday -- and hadn't beaten Baltimore 10 times in a row since May of the 2000 season.
These two teams split the season series last year, but Toronto has kept things from ever getting too close. Baltimore's pitching staff has had trouble getting deep into games in recent weeks, and Kevin Millwood will take the ball in Tuesday's middle act. The Orioles had just two quality starts in their last 11 games, putting pressure on Millwood to get back on serve.
"These guys for me -- our starters -- just haven't been able to get the ball down and throw strikes," said Baltimore interim manager Juan Samuel. "We are walking more guys than we want to and pitch counts have been very, very high early in ballgames, which forces you not to overexpose some of our young pitchers. And as a result our bullpen has probably been used too much."
Millwood, who has gone 1-5 with a 5.82 ERA in nine road starts, will be trying to avoid the luck that struck him in his previous start away from home. Millwood went just one inning in that outing -- the third-shortest start of his career -- and wound up on the disabled list with a strained right forearm. Millwood is healthy and hoping to return to his peak-level form.
The Blue Jays, meanwhile, will counter with southpaw Ricky Romero, who is having a fitting encore to his strong rookie season. Romero has a 3.52 ERA this season, but he's struggled with a 1-3 record with a 7.58 ERA in four starts during the month of July. The former first-round draftee has gone 4-2 with a 2.16 ERA at home and 3-5 with a 4.36 mark on the road.
Three players -- Jose Bautista, Aaron Hill and Adam Lind -- combined to provide most of Toronto's offense on Monday. Bautista hit his 28th home run, the most of any Major Leaguer, and Hill homered and singled to push his season average over .200. Lind contributed three hits, two runs and two RBIs in the rout, and eight of Toronto's nine runs came in the first five innings.
Orioles: Scott's hot hitting continues
Luke Scott drilled another home run in Wednesday's loss, and he's been one of the team's most effective hitters since moving up in the lineup. Scott, Baltimore's designated hitter, is hitting .349 (14-for-43) with eight extra-base hits and 10 RBIs in 11 games in the cleanup slot. A notoriously streaky hitter, Scott has eight of his 16 home runs in his last 33 games.
"We've seen that in the past," said Samuel. "He can be a one-man wrecking crew out there when he's hot. We've seen both sides of the coin and hopefully we can ride this one for a long, long time, because we need his offense in the lineup."
Blue Jays: Bottom third heating up
The bottom third of Toronto's batting order -- comprised of first baseman Lyle Overbay, third baseman Edwin Encarnacion and catcher Jose Molina -- was quiet in the series-opening victory. Overbay and Encarnacion have been pretty productive of late, though, and the Blue Jays need them to keep hitting to restore balance to one of the league's most prolific lineups.
"[Overbay has] probably been one of our better hitters for the last month. ... Edwin has been right there with him," said Toronto manager Cito Gaston of the strong play the club has gotten from Encarnacion. "Edwin has played well over there. They work with him. As long as he keeps his feet moving, he makes good throws. It's when he gets flat-footed he has some trouble."
The last time Toronto took 10 straight from Baltimore -- and the only prior time in the rich history between these two teams -- came between April of 1999 and May of 2000. ... Ty Wigginton had his suspension cut from three games to two after agreeing to drop an appeal, and began serving the penalty on Monday. ... Vernon Wells sealed his seventh 20-homer season on Saturday, logging the second-most in Toronto's franchise history. ... The Orioles have just 19 saves all season, and wide-bodied reliever Alfredo Simon has 14 of them. ... Toronto leads the Major Leagues in home runs (152) and in homers at home (82). ... The Orioles are 16-14 in one-run games this season. ... Baltimore has won four of its last five games and seven of its last nine road games. ... Center fielder Adam Jones has hit safely in 33 of his last 43 games, and he's batting .304 (51-for-168) with 25 RBIs in that span.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.