The AL East rivals conclude their respective seasons Sunday at Camden Yards in the deciding game of their three-game set.
Weather has been the biggest factor in the first two games of this series with Toronto (85-76) winning Friday’s series opener 3-0 in a game called by rain in the seventh inning. On Saturday, the Orioles (68-92) snapped their season-high 10-game losing streak with a 2-1 victory when that contest was also called in the seventh due to rain.
“Mother Nature helped us and Lord knows, we needed all the help we can get,” Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. “We’ll take it.”
Toronto manager Cito Gaston had no complaints that the game was called, except that a victory would have assured his team at least 86 wins.
“It was getting real slippery out there for the guys, so I guess it was the right thing to do,” Gaston said. “The only thing is, we’d certainly like to finish 10 games over and this is a two-game swing. But hey, I guess we kind of got one last night, so what goes around, comes around.”
Baltimore will conclude its 11th straight losing season Sunday with its first last-place finish since 1988. The Orioles have made a habit of finishing poorly and this season was no exception as they head into Sunday having lost 27 of their last 33 games.
Toronto, meanwhile, saw its fortunes change on June 20 when it hired Gaston to replace manager John Gibbons. Under Gaston, the Blue Jays have gone 50-37 and even played their way into the fringe of the wild-card race with a 10-game winning streak from Aug. 30-Sept. 9.
Led by the combination of 20-game winner Roy Halladay and 18-game winner A.J. Burnett, the Blue Jays have a league-best 3.51 ERA. Baltimore’s staff, meanwhile, has a 5.12 ERA and is led by Jeremy Guthrie (10-11, 3.57 ERA), who will be the only Orioles pitcher in double figures in wins.
Jesse Litsch (12-9, 3.67) starts the final game of the season for Toronto. The right-hander has been outstanding since his recall from Triple-A Syracuse on Aug. 12, going 4-2 with a 2.00 ERA in eight starts over 54 innings. He has allowed 41 hits during that span as his ERA has dropped from 4.46 to 3.67.
Litsch had another quality outing Tuesday in a tough-luck 3-1 loss to the Yankees, yielding three runs—two earned—and five hits in seven innings. He walked one and struck out a career-high eight.
He is 2-3 with a 4.76 ERA in five career starts against the Orioles, throwing six strong innings in a 3-2 win at Rogers Centre on Sept. 18.
Guthrie makes his first appearance in a month for Baltimore. Easily the Orioles’ best starter this season, the right-hander hasn’t pitched since Aug. 29 because of a sore right shoulder. Although his won-loss record is unimpressive, Guthrie received minimal offensive support early in the season and allowed two runs or fewer during a six-start stretch from July 23-Aug. 18.
He is 1-1 with a 1.83 ERA in three starts this season against the Blue Jays.