Toronto (48-50) at Baltimore (48-50)

  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Mon Jul 21, 2008
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Baltimore Orioles’ bullpen has been a bright spot that’s breaking down recently due to overuse. Struggling starter Radhames Liz isn’t likely to ease the burden.

The Orioles, who have been getting little productivity from their starting staff, send Liz out in the opener of a four-game set with the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday night.

Baltimore (47-50) has stayed competitive this season, thanks partly to a bullpen that has posted a 3.49 ERA. Over the last six games, only Garrett Olson and Jeremy Guthrie have gone at least six innings.

That’s forced Baltimore’s relievers to pitch 8 2-3 innings in the last two games, allowing five runs and 11 hits. They gave up two runs and four hits in 3 2-3 innings in a 5-1 loss to Detroit on Sunday.

“Our bullpen had been pretty much depleted in this series, and we stretched it as best we could,” starter Brian Burres told the Orioles’ official Web site.

Liz (3-2, 7.57 ERA) has only helped tax the Orioles’ bullpen. The right-hander is coming off the worst start of his brief career, allowing eight runs and six hits in 2 1-3 innings as Baltimore lost 12-1 to Boston on July 12.

He’s failed to go at least four innings in three of his eight starts, and has never pitched more than 6 1-3 in his career. Liz also has given up 12 runs in six innings while losing his last two starts.

Liz, however, has a 1.64 ERA in three appearances - one start—the Blue Jays (48-50) with no decisions.

The Blue Jays were struggling at the plate on the road before winning 9-4 on Sunday at Tampa Bay to avoid a three-game sweep. Toronto won for the fourth time in their last 17 road games, scoring two runs or less nine times.

The Blue Jays had a .234 average in 16 road games prior to tallying 11 hits Sunday.

Alex Rios and Marco Scutaro homered for Toronto. It was the first homer for Rios since June 24, ending a drought of 67 at-bats without one.

“It’s great,” said Rios, who has five homers this season after a career-high 24 last year. “I don’t have a bunch, but when I get one they’re good.”

The Blue Jays, though, didn’t get any help at the plate from catcher Gregg Zaun, who went 0-for-4. He played in the matinee after Rod Barajas got the start in Saturday night’s 6-4 loss.

Barajas has seen the majority of the playing time since Cito Gaston took over as manager. But Gaston hasn’t named Barajas the starter, only saying he would “do a little bit more of the catching.”

Barajas is batting .256 with eight home runs and 29 RBIs in 62 games, while Zaun has hit .244 with five home runs and 19 RBIs in 57 contests.

One of them will be Jesse Litsch’s batterymate. Litsch (8-6, 4.16) has posted a 10.13 ERA while losing his last two starts.

After beginning the season 7-1, Litsch has won once in his last eight outings. The right-hander gave up eight runs - three earned - and seven hits in 2 2-3 innings as Toronto lost 9-4 to the New York Yankees on July 12.

Litsch is 1-2 with a 3.57 ERA in three starts against the Orioles.

Baltimore may be without starting center fielder Adam Jones, who suffered an ankle injury Saturday and didn’t play Sunday. Jay Payton was 0-for-3 in place of Jones, and could start again in this contest.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Litsch TOR vs. R. Liz PIT
13-9 Record 6-6
3.58 ERA 6.72
99 K 57
39 BB 51
1.23 WHIP 1.78


Monday, Jul 21