A pair of tough losses to end an eight-game road trip may have dealt the Toronto Blue Jays’ faint playoff hopes a debilitating blow.
Now, they need to hope a lengthy homestand can propel them to an improbable late run.
The Blue Jays will look for their seventh straight win at Rogers Centre on Tuesday, when they open a nine-game homestand with the first of three against the Baltimore Orioles.
Toronto (80-60) had won eight in a row - including its last six home games - heading into a crucial road trip in Chicago and Boston last week. The Blue Jays opened the trip by winning three of four over the White Sox, pulling within 6 1/2 games of the wild card-leading Red Sox heading into their series at Fenway Park.
The Blue Jays lost Friday, but appeared to be on their way to a doubleheader sweep Saturday, winning 8-1 in the afternoon and leading 5-2 in the nightcap. A late-inning rally gave Boston a 7-5 win, though, and Toronto ace Roy Halladay couldn’t salvage a series split Sunday in a 4-3 loss that left the Blue Jays 8 1/2 games behind the Red Sox.
“It was a big series for us,” Halladay told the Blue Jays’ official Web site. “There’s obviously still two weeks left to go, but it’s tough to come in knowing you’ve got to win three or four and getting one.”
Before getting another crack at Boston this weekend, Toronto gets a visit from Baltimore (66-82), which has lost 17 of its last 21 games. The Blue Jays lost three of their first four meetings with the Orioles this season, but have won seven of eight since.
A seventh consecutive home win on Tuesday would give Toronto its longest home winning streak of the season.
“We need a lot of help from other teams,” said first baseman Lyle Overbay, who’s hitting .424 with two homers in his last 10 games. “(And for us), it’s just a matter of getting on a roll.”
Shaun Marcum (9-6, 3.38 ERA) seems like a good candidate to get a run started. He has a 1.26 ERA over his last two starts, and allowed two runs in 7 1-3 innings of Thursday’s 6-4 victory over the White Sox.
Marcum limited the Orioles to run over seven innings on June 6 at Rogers Centre, though he didn’t get a decision after Baltimore rallied for a 6-5 victory.
Opponents are hitting .199 off Marcum at home in 2008.
After the Orioles beat Minnesota 7-3 on Sunday, Chris Waters (2-3, 5.73) will try to help his team win consecutive games for the first time since Aug. 13-15, when it took three in a row.
Waters, a 28-year-old rookie left-hander, hasn’t pitched well recently. He’s 0-2 with a 7.63 ERA in his last three starts, and gave up five runs in 5 2-3 innings on Wednesday in a 7-1 loss to Cleveland.
“Any time you don’t command your pitches, bad things happen,” Waters told the Orioles’ official Web site.
Baltimore starters are 2-10 with an 8.02 ERA over their last 15 games.