Toronto (49-51) at Baltimore (49-51)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Baltimore, MD
Temp: 82° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Wed Jul 23, 2008
  • TV: RSN, MASN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Toronto Blue Jays have shown offensive improvement since Cito Gaston took over as manager last month. A few more games like Tuesday and Gaston will look like a genius.

The Blue Jays look to win consecutive road games for the first time this month as they continue a four-game series Wednesday night against the Baltimore Orioles.

A 35-39 record and a weak offense were contributing factors in John Gibbons’ dismissal as Toronto manager on June 20. The Blue Jays (49-51) had a .258 batting average under Gibbons—hitting a dismal .231 with runners in scoring position—and averaged 4.0 runs per game.

Re-hiring Gaston, who managed Toronto to World Series titles in 1992 and 1993, was a logical move since he was also the team’s hitting coach from 1982 to 1989 and again in 2000 and 2001.

The Blue Jays are 14-12 under Gaston, batting a respectable .266 and averaging 4.9 runs per contest. Despite that slight improvement, Toronto still ranks 11th in the AL in runs scored (426) and 13th in homers (70).

“It might’ve got a little better since I’ve been here, but it hasn’t been great, either,” Gaston told the Blue Jays’ official Web site.

After losing Monday’s series opener, the Blue Jays erased a four-run deficit and pounded out 14 hits in a 10-8 victory Tuesday.

Adam Lind had a career-high four hits, including a three-run homer for Toronto, which entered Tuesday having lost 14 of 18 on the road.

Lind is 27-for-78 (.346) with five homers and 22 RBIs in 22 games since his recall from Triple-A Syracuse on June 21.

“I struggled a little when I first came back, then I just turned myself over to the staff and put my future in their hands,” Lind said. “I am a believer. When you say you have Cito Gaston as your manager … even my friends said, ‘You have a guy like that, you listen to him. He has got to know what he’s talking about.’”

The Blue Jays, who haven’t won back-to-back away contests since June 22 and 30, vaulted over the Orioles (48-51) into fourth place in the AL East.

Baltimore wasted another big game from Melvin Mora, who had four hits, a homer and a season-high five RBIs. He is 12-for-24 with four home runs and 14 RBIs in six games since the All-Star break.

Nick Markakis and Ramon Hernandez also homered for the Orioles, whose starters have a 6.57 ERA in 18 games this month.

Baltimore looks to get back in the win column behind top starter Jeremy Guthrie (6-7, 3.60 ERA). The right-hander improved to 3-0 in his last six starts with a 7-4 victory over Detroit on Friday despite allowing four runs and a season-high 12 hits in six innings.

Guthrie, who has pitched at least six innings in 12 of his last 13 appearances, is 1-0 with a 2.65 ERA in five career starts against the Blue Jays. He has faced Toronto twice this season and limited them to two earned runs and 10 hits in 14 innings.

A.J. Burnett (10-9, 4.84) looks to win on the road for the first time in over two months. The right-hander is 0-4 with a 5.51 ERA in five away starts since beating Philadelphia on May 17.

His last road start, however, was excellent though it resulted in a 2-1 loss to Tampa Bay on Friday. Burnett gave up two runs and five hits over seven innings.

Burnett is 5-1 with a 5.26 ERA in eight career starts versus Baltimore, going 1-1 with a 13.97 ERA in two this season.

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Starting Pitchers

A. Burnett Pit vs. J. Guthrie KC
18-10 Record 10-12
4.07 ERA 3.63
231 K 120
86 BB 58
1.34 WHIP 1.23

Scoreboard

Wednesday, Jul 23