Blue Jays-Orioles Preview

The Associated Press

As the Baltimore Orioles head into the All-Star break again a postseason contender, the underachieving Toronto Blue Jays have plenty of work ahead to become one.

The Blue Jays can start by winning their first road series in a month Sunday against the Orioles.

With the acquisitions of stars Jose Reyes, R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson, added to a roster that already included sluggers Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto (45-48) was a preseason favorite in the AL East. However, a sprained ankle sidelined Reyes for more than two months, Dickey has 10 losses and the team is 20-27 on the road and last in the division.

Toronto is 7-12 since its franchise-tying 11-game winning streak ended, but in position to record its first winning road set since a four-game sweep at Texas from June 13-16.

J.P. Arencibia had a go-ahead two-run single in the sixth inning and Encarnacion hit his 25th homer in the Saturday's 7-3 road win over Baltimore (52-43). Trailing 3-2, five Blue Jays relievers allowed three hits over the final five innings.

Led by All-Star set-up man Steve Delabar, Toronto's bullpen is among the majors' best with a 2.92 ERA.

"There's not much to say other than they've really been lights out the whole year,'' Arencibia said.

Headed to his first All-Star game, Encarnacion is batting .320 (16 for 50) with seven home runs and 16 RBIs in 12 games against the Orioles this season.

Johnson (1-4, 4.62 ERA), a two-time All-Star with Miami, is 0-2 with a 4.70 ERA in three starts since he allowed four runs in six innings to manage his only win, 13-5 over Baltimore on June 23.

However, the Blue Jays have not scored a single run with the right-hander on the mound in his last three. Johnson gave up two runs and three hits in seven innings of a 3-0 loss at Cleveland on Tuesday.

"It is a little bit frustrating, but when we don't score any runs, my job is to throw up zeroes,'' he said.

A combined 0 for 5 versus Johnson, Chris Davis and Adam Jones each homered as Baltimore's three-game winning streak ended Saturday. A wild-card qualifier last season, the Orioles are third in the East and on the cusp of the two wild-card spots in 2013.

Davis, whose career-high 36 homers lead the majors, has one in three straight games while going 4 for 10 during that span. He was 1 for 24 with a home run prior to that stretch.

He's hit .419 (13 for 31) with five home runs, four doubles and 10 RBIs in his last nine versus Toronto.

Jones, who also homered in Friday's 8-5 win, is batting .327 with six of his 18 homers and 10 RBIs in 12 games against the Blue Jays in 2013.

Scott Feldman (0-1, 7.15) tries a third time to post his first victory as an Oriole while looking to bounce back after he was charged with five of the seven runs he allowed in the sixth inning of an 8-5 loss to Texas on Monday - his first home start since being acquired from the Chicago Cubs.

"Got to go back and look at the tape and see what kind of adjustments I need to make for next time," Feldman told the Orioles' official website.

The right-hander is 0-4 with a 5.45 ERA in six starts against the Blue Jays, but has not made one since 2010.

What to Read Next