Well-pitched games have been very rare for the Baltimore Orioles lately.
Despite that, they’ll look to get a third straight strong performance from a starting pitcher to a three-game win streak Wednesday night when they play the middle game of their road series against the Toronto Blue Jays.
An extremely weak rotation and an overworked bullpen have been the leading factors in an 11th straight losing season for the Orioles (67-82), who will finish last for the first time since 1988.
Baltimore actually surpassed expectations for a good portion of what was expected to be a rebuilding season, sitting two games under .500 on Aug. 15. Since then, however, injuries to top starter Jeremy Guthrie, closer George Sherrill and set-up man Jim Johnson have taken their toll, contributing to a 6-20 skid heading into Tuesday’s game.
After starter Garrett Olson recorded only two outs in Saturday’s 12-6 loss to Minnesota, Radhames Liz turned in the best start of his young career, tossing eight scoreless innings in Sunday’s 7-3 win over the Twins.
Rookie Chris Waters was even better Tuesday night at Toronto, pitching a four-hitter in a 2-0 victory for the Orioles’ first shutout this season. He came in 0-3 with a 6.45 ERA in his past four starts.
“Anytime I’m out there I want to go all nine,” Waters said. “Sometimes you don’t have what you need to do it but tonight was special.”
Even with the performances by Liz and Waters, Baltimore starters are 3-10 with a 7.07 ERA over the last 16 games. Before Sunday, the longest outing by an Orioles starter in that span was a six-inning stint by Olson on Sept. 8.
Luke Scott gave Waters all the support he needed with a solo homer—his 23rd—in the fourth inning as Baltimore won two in a row for the first time since a three-game winning streak from Aug. 13-15.
“That was the real deal,” Orioles manager Dave Trembley said of Scott’s homer. “He didn’t miss it.”
The Blue Jays (80-71) have lost three straight and five of seven after a season-high 10-game win streak moved them into the fringe of the wild-card race. The defeat also denied Toronto a seventh straight home victory.
Brian Bass (3-4, 4.84 ERA) tries to provide the Orioles with another strong outing as he makes his second career start. Acquired from Minnesota on Sept. 5, the right-hander was thrust into the rotation Thursday against Cleveland and pitched well enough to earn another start, allowing three runs—one earned— and four hits over 4 1-3 innings in the Orioles’ 6-3 victory.
Bass pitched two scoreless innings on May 13 in his only career appearance against Toronto.
Rookie David Purcey (3-6, 5.10) makes his first start against the Orioles. After pitching eight stellar innings in a 1-0 win over Tampa Bay on Sept. 7 in the best start of his young career, the left-hander wasn’t as sharp Friday in a 7-0 loss at Boston. He allowed four runs—three earned—and six hits with two walks in 6 2-3 innings.
Purcey is 2-2 with a 4.88 ERA in six home starts, yielding only two home runs in 31 1-3 innings.