Josh Banks’ first major league start will come against his hometown team.
The Baltimore native will take the mound for the Toronto Blue Jays (81-77) as they cap their season series with the Orioles (67-91) on Thursday night.
Since being recalled from Triple-A Syracuse on Sept. 4, the right-hander has made two relief appearances against the New York Yankees, allowing a run, two hits and two walks in two innings.
Banks (0-0, 4.50 ERA), who’s pitching in place of the injured Shaun Marcum, hasn’t started since Sept. 1.
“So, hopefully it goes well,” he told the Blue Jays’ official Web site. “I’m praying for the best, but we’ll see what happens. Hopefully I can go out there and go as long as I can.”
Banks also said he’s gotten more than a few requests for tickets.
“Around 500 - maybe more,” he said with a smile. “My sister’s work, they already bought 200 tickets. That’s just my sister alone. That’s just an estimate. So, it might be a little less, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a lot more.”
In 27 starts this season with the minor-league Chiefs, Banks was 12-10 with a 4.63 ERA.
Jeremy Guthrie (7-5, 3.65), sidelined since Sept. 9 with a strained oblique, will make his final start of the season for the Orioles as they play their final game of 2007 at Camden Yards.
“I feel great - 100 percent,” the right-hander said. “I never had an injury before. I told them from Day 1 that I wanted to pitch again.”
Orioles manager Dave Trembley said Guthrie will be limited to 75 pitches.
Despite a winning record, Guthrie hasn’t posted a victory since beating the Yankees on July 27. In eight starts since, he’s 0-2 with a 5.72 ERA and the Orioles are 1-7 in those outings.
“I didn’t want my season to end. I just wanted to pitch and get one more chance,” said Guthrie, who has no record and 3.00 ERA in two starts versus the Blue Jays this season.
Toronto recorded its highest-scoring first inning in franchise history on Wednesday, plating eight runs before holding on for an 8-5 win. Matt Stairs and Adam Lind each knocked in two runs for the Blue Jays, who recorded six singles and sent 13 men to the plate against former Toronto pitcher Victor Zambrano and Kurt Birkins.
The win was the Jays’ 10th over the Orioles in 17 games, and ensured Toronto of two straight seasons at .500 or better for the first time since 1999 and 2000.
“Tonight was an example of playing the game with pride and for pride, because after the first inning everybody could have cashed it in,” Trembley said.
Following this series, the Blue Jays will close out 2007 with a three-game set at home versus Tampa Bay, while the Orioles host the playoff-bound Yankees.
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