On July 26, Hentgen made his second start against the Blue Jays since undergoing “Tommy John” elbow surgery in 2001. He missed nearly all of the 2001 and ’02 seasons.
The 34-year-old right-hander, who earned two World Series rings, a Cy Young Award, and three All-Star appearances while pitching for Toronto from 1991-99, gave up just two earned runs and five hits in six innings of a 7-2 win—his first victory against his former team.
“It feels a little funny running out there, going into the opposing dugout, but after the first out it’s game on,” he said.
In his only other start against the Blue Jays, Hentgen, who earned a 120-88 record with Toronto, gave up five earned runs and eight hits in six innings of a 5-1 loss on Sept. 26, 2002.
“I felt probably worse the last time in September,” he said in July. “This time I felt like it was just a normal game, where in September I felt kind of funny coming back and pitching back here for the first time.”
Hentgen also made one relief appearance against the Blue Jays this season, giving up one earn run and three hits in three innings of Baltimore’s 6-1 loss, but he did not receive a decision.
The veteran hurler, who has a $4 million option for next season, has been making a good case for a spot in next year’s rotation. In his past 11 starts, he is 5-2 with a 2.85 ERA.
“Definitely,” said Orioles executive vice president Jim Beattie, when asked if Hentgen might return. “It depends on how we feel about the rest of our starting rotation. And obviously finances come into it.”
On Friday, the Blue Jays beat the Orioles 4-2 for their third straight win and sixth in eight games.
STANDINGS: Orioles - 4th place, 24 GB, AL East. Blue Jays - 3rd place, 15 1/2 GB, AL East.
ORIOLES PROBABLE STARTER: Hentgen (6-7, 4.05 ERA). Hentgen is 1-1 with a 4.80 ERA in three appearances, including two starts, against his former team.
BLUE JAYS PROBABLE STARTER: Kelvim Escobar (10-9, 4.55 ERA). Escobar gave up eight runs—six earned—and 10 hits in 3 1-3 innings of Monday’s 9-3 loss to the New York Yankees—his third defeat in four decisions since a four-game winning streak. In 27 career appearances, including 11 starts, against the Orioles, he is 8-2 with a 4.01 ERA.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Orioles - Jay Gibbons, .274 avg. and 73 runs; Batista, 25 HRs; Gibbons and Batista, 93 RBIs; Brian Roberts, 21 SBs. Blue Jays - Vernon Wells, .318 avg.; Delgado, 35 HRs and 126 RBIs; Delgado and Wells, 106 runs; Eric Hinske, 9 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Blue Jays, 8-6.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Orioles - OF Luis Matos left Friday’s game in the fifth inning with a strained left hamstring. … 2B Roberts did not start Friday for the third consecutive game because of a sprained right ankle, but he did get a pinch-hit single. … LHP Damian Moss, who is 1-4 with a 5.48 ERA in eight starts since being obtained from the San Francisco Giants at the trade deadline, was removed from the starting rotation. Blue Jays - The Blue Jays are three games above .500 for the first time since July 28. … The Blue Jays are the only team in baseball with a winning record on the road and a losing record at home. … RHP Escobar is 3-7 with a 6.21 ERA and one save in 20 appearances, including 12 starts, at home this season.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Orioles - 28-44 on the road; Blue Jays - 35-37 at home.
INJURIES: Orioles - INF David Segui (wrist), 15-day DL; RHP Kurt Ainsworth (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Erik Bedard (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Scott Erickson (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Willis Roberts (elbow), 60-day DL; OF Albert Belle (hip), 60-day DL; OF Marty Cordova (elbow), 60-day DL; OF Matos (hamstring), day-to-day; INF Roberts (ankle), day-to-day. Blue Jays - LHP Doug Creek (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Bob File (shoulder), 60-day DL.