Halladay (15-7, 3.71 ERA) has accounted for nearly one-fifth of Toronto’s victories—92 of 477—since the start of the 2002 season, and will finish as the team’s wins leader in 2007.
The 2003 AL Cy Young award winner typically dominates the Orioles. He is 15-4 with a 2.79 ERA in 25 career games, including 21 starts versus Baltimore, the only club he’s defeated more than 11 times.
Halladay has allowed just three runs over 16 innings in two starts against the Orioles (67-90) this season, including an 8-3 victory at Rogers Centre on Sept. 15, when he limited them to one run and five hits in seven innings.
The right-hander, though, is 0-5 despite a 3.56 ERA over nine road starts since June 30, as he’s received an average of just 2.90 runs from his offense. Pitching at New York on Friday, he took a shutout into the ninth but wound up coming one out short of a complete game and allowing four runs, only one of them earned. The Blue Jays won the contest 5-4 in 14.
Frank Thomas went 4-for-4 with his 513th career home run and finished with three RBIs as the Blue Jays (80-77) cruised to an 11-4 victory in Tuesday night’s series opener.
The 39-year-old designated hitter, who also scored three runs, needs six RBIs over the final five games to reach 100 for the 12th time.
“I’ll be trying, but I’m not going to be upset if I don’t get there,” said Thomas, who also passed Eddie Mathews and Ernie Banks for 18th place on the all-time home run list. “It’s been a long grind and I closed so well down the stretch.
“I’d prefer to get there, I’ll try to get there, but if it doesn’t happen, like I said, it’s been a decent season.”
Every starter had at least one hit for Toronto, which won for the sixth time in eight games and needs one more victory to assure it won’t finish with a losing record.
Baltimore, meanwhile, reached the 90-loss mark for the fifth time in seven years. The Orioles have alternated wins and losses in their last six games, but are just 9-25 since Aug. 22. They have yielded 10 runs or more nine times in that span.
“Like we’ve been saying for the better part of 40 or so games here, it’s about starting pitching,” Baltimore manager Dave Trembley said. “And our starting pitching, after we lost the guys that we lost, it’s been spotty. It’s real hard to be out there when the runs come as quickly as they come.”
Orioles starter Victor Zambrano (0-2, 6.41) will face the Blue Jays for the second time since they released him in July. The right-hander signed a minor-league contract with Pittsburgh, but did not appear in the majors again until after the Pirates dealt him to Baltimore for cash considerations earlier this month.
Zambrano made his Orioles debut Sept. 15, when he pitched four scoreless innings of relief at Toronto, but did not record a decision in Baltimore’s 8-3 defeat. He also didn’t factor in the decision when he started Thursday at Texas, allowing one run and three hits over five innings of the Orioles’ 10-inning, 6-3 victory.
Zambrano is 0-5 with an 8.89 ERA in 10 career appearances - four starts - at Camden Yards. He has never faced Thomas.