Roy Halladay looks to become the majors’ first 16-game winner and the Toronto Blue Jays try to avoid being swept at Camden Yards for the first time in more than 12 years when they meet the resurgent Baltimore Orioles on Sunday.
Halladay (15-3, 3.20 ERA) earned his only Cy Young Award in 2003 when he was 22-7 with a 3.25 ERA for Toronto (65-58). He’s now on pace to enjoy the finest season of his nine-year career.
During his award-winning season three years ago, Halladay won 11 straight starts from May 1-June 22, but he faltered down the stretch with losses in four of his final 10 outings.
Now 29, the right-hander has bounced back from each of his losses this season in strong fashion. After falling to Tampa Bay on April 9, he won his next seven decisions. Following a loss to Florida on June 18, Halladay won a season-high four straight starts and five decisions overall.
Halladay has won his last two starts after giving up a season high-tying 10 hits in a loss to the Chicago White Sox on Aug. 4.
“It gives you a psychological lift when he’s out there,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said after Halladay surrendered two runs over seven innings of a 4-3 win over Tampa Bay on Tuesday. “You feel good going into the game.”
In three starts against Baltimore this season, Halladay is 2-0 with a 2.82 ERA, including a six-hitter in a 7-1 victory on June 13. Overall, he is 13-4 with a 2.94 ERA in 22 games, including 18 starts, versus the Orioles.
The 13 wins are the most Halladay has against any team.
Baltimore (55-68) will look to Erik Bedard (12-8, 3.81) to help complete the team’s first three-game series sweep of Toronto at home since May 9-11, 1994.
Bedard won a career-best seven straight starts from June 16-July 23, but has since gone winless despite posting a 3.20 ERA. The left-hander is 0-2 in four starts, and has received just 10 runs of support in those outings.
He failed to record a decision his last time out, allowing a run and five hits over six innings of a 6-3 loss to the New York Yankees on Tuesday.
“Erik’s been great,” Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said. “He maxes out. He’s just been outstanding for us. He just got into a high pitch count, and we couldn’t get him through another inning.”
Bedard has been betrayed by his bullpen during his winless skid as Baltimore’s relievers have combined to allow nine runs and 12 hits in 8 2-3 innings for a 9.35 ERA.
Halladay and Bedard had similar lines when they squared off on Aug. 9 in Toronto’s 4-3 win. Halladay gave up three runs and eight hits with five strikeouts over 7 1-3 innings. Bedard went seven innings, yielding four runs and seven hits with a walk and four strikeouts.
Baltimore became the last team this season to post a four-game winning streak after routing Toronto 15-0 on Saturday. Daniel Cabrera tossed a five-hitter for his second career shutout, Kevin Millar had five RBIs and rookie Nick Markakis’ home run ignited a seven-run first inning.
“Hey, it’s only August. It’s not that big a deal,” Perlozzo said with a wry grin.
The four-game winning streak is the Orioles’ longest since closing last season with a road sweep of Tampa Bay and taking the first two games this year from the Devil Rays.
It was the Blue Jays’ most lopsided shutout loss since a 15-0 defeat to the Yankees on Sept. 25, 1977.