After missing his last start due to personal reasons, A.J. Burnett hopes to continue his recent dominance Tuesday night as he’s expected to take the mound for the Toronto Blue Jays in the opener of a three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards.
Burnett (9-7, 3.40 ERA) was scheduled to pitch against the New York Yankees on Monday, but returned home to deal with a family matter. Rookie Jesse Litsch took Burnett’s place, and pitched five-hit ball for 7 2-3 innings in the Blue Jays’ 4-1 victory.
“Burnett should be back to pitch (Tuesday),” Toronto manager John Gibbons told the team’s official Web site. “He had to take care of some personal business, but he’s in Baltimore.”
Burnett is 4-1 with a 1.97 ERA in eight games since coming off the disabled list on Aug. 12, after missing nearly six weeks with a sore shoulder. Since returning, Burnett leads the league in ERA and opponent batting average (.167).
Last Tuesday, the right-hander came within one out of his third complete game of the season, allowing three runs, nine hits with 11 strikeouts in a 4-3 win over Boston.
Burnett looks to remain perfect against the Orioles, against whom he’s 4-0 with a 2.95 ERA in five career starts. In four outings this season, he is 3-0 with 2.79 ERA.
Toronto (79-77) has won five of its last seven games, but has dropped five of its last seven away from Rogers Centre.
“We’re going after our own pride,” Gibbons said.
After spending more than a month in Baltimore’s bullpen, Burres has allowed two runs in 14 1-3 innings in his last two starts, going 1-1 in those games.
On Wednesday, the rookie left-hander gave up two runs, five hits and struck out seven in 7 1-3 innings of a 2-1 loss to the Yankees.
“When he has command of his fastball, he’s pretty darn good,” Orioles manager Dave Trembley told the team’s official Web site. “He just looks a whole lot more comfortable when he knows that he’s going to pitch every five days.
“He’s opened my eyes and hopefully a lot of other people’s eyes for next season (to be) a starter in our rotation.”
Against the Blue Jays on Sept. 14, Burres yielded eight hits in seven shutout innings of a 6-2 victory. In his only other start against Toronto on May 16, he gave up two runs and seven hits in five innings of a 2-1 defeat.
Baltimore (67-89) defeated Kansas City 3-2 in a makeup game on Monday night as Nick Markakis hit a tiebreaking homer in the eighth inning.
Markakis has homered in two of his last three games, and is batting .478 (11-for-23) with a home run and five RBIs in six home games against the Blue Jays this season.
Toronto leads the season series 8-7.