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On Deck: Blue Jays (6-4) @ Orioles (4-6)

The Toronto Blue Jays continue their nine-game road trip on Monday, opening a three-game set with the Baltimore Orioles.

TOR_BAL

The Jays are fresh off taking two out of three from their playoff rivals in a previous life, the Texas Rangers. Both wins could, and maybe should have been blowouts, with the bullpen opening the door to Ranger comebacks a little bit. But in bend-but-don’t-break fashion, they did just enough to get the ball to Roberto Osuna with a three-run lead and allow the young closer to slam the door. The bats were as cold as the night air on Saturday, but scraped together 15 runs in the two victories, and offensively, the Jays have been a bit of a pleasant surprise. The starting pitching is certainly going to keep them in enough games that a timely hit or two might be enough on some nights.

Toronto has won back-to-back series, and haven’t lost one yet this year. At 6-4 through ten games, the club could match last April’s win total by simply winning this series in Baltimore.

The Trash Birds, on the other hand, come home hot after taking three of four in Yankee Stadium, and sit at 5-5 overall. Perhaps not as trash as we thought they might be. Just kidding. Still trash.

   Toronto Baltimore 
Monday – 7:05 LH J.A. Happ (1-1, 5.40) RH Dylan Bundy (0-0, 0.69) 
Tuesday – 7:05 RH Aaron Sanchez (0-1, 5.40)  RH Andrew Cashner (1-1, 4.09) 
Wednesday – 7:05 RH Marco Estrada (1-0, 2.77)  RH Kevin Gausman (0-1, 8.00)

Dylan Bundy has been almost untouchable this year, surrendering just one earned run and 10 hits over his 13 innings, while striking out 15. He held the Jays to a .203 average over his three starts against them last year … Aaron Sanchez has been a mixed bag against the Orioles slugger in his career. He’s limited Manny Machado to six hits in 31 plate appearances. Adam Jones has also struggled, with a .115 average and just 1 HR, 1 RBI. However, Jonathan Schoop is 9-for-22 (.409), and Chris Davis is 8-for-21 (.381) with 4 HR, 5 RBI and 10 walks … Marco Estrada is a career 7-1 with a 3.20 ERA and 1.11 WHIP against the trash birds, including 3-1 at Camden Yards … Note: it appears the Jays will just miss being victim to Alex Cobb’s Orioles debut, as some reports have him set to make his first start of the season over the weekend in Boston.

Who’s Hot / Who’s Not
(All stats are over the last 7 days, unless otherwise indicated)

Toronto

HOT  LF Curtis Granderson: 6-for-12, 1.372 OPS, 2 2B, 3B, 2 RBI
HOT  IF Yangervis Solarte: 5-for-13, HR, 2B, 8 BB, 1 K
HOT RP Roberto Osuna: 5 GP, 5.1 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 3 K, 4/4 saves
NOT RF Randall Grichuk: 0-for-20, 2 BB, 8 K
NOT CF Kevin Pillar: 4-for-24 (.167), 2B, 3B, 0 BB, 6 K

Osuna’s next save will be the 100th in his young career, pulling him into a tie with Billy Koch for 3rd all-time in club history. Next up on the list is Duane Ward’s 121 … Grichuk has yet to record a hit in April, and is actually hitless in his last 30 plate appearances going back to the first inning on March 31st against the Yankees … Don’t expect Solarte to be walking eight times in a week very often, but his plate discipline and power have made him a fit, though an odd looking one, in the cleanup spot whenever he gets into the lineup … Honourable mention to Steve Pearce, who took advantage of three straight starts against lefties and homered in back-to-back days. He and Granderson are forming an effective platoon in left field … Kendrys Morales is 4-for-15 since the end of the Yankees series, knocked his first home run of the season on Sunday and has driven in six runs … The Jays continue to succeed with runners in scoring position, hitting an AL-best .348, an astounding number in the early going.

Baltimore

 HOT CF Adam Jones: 11-for-33 (.333), .898 OPS, 2 HR, 6 RBI
 HOT SS Manny Machado: 10-for-33 (.303), .858 OPS, 2 HR, 5 RBI
 HOT DH Pedro Alvarez: 3-for-8 (.375), 1.458 OPS, HR, 5 RBI, 4 BB
 NOT C Caleb Joseph: 1-for-18 (.056), 1 BB, 10 K
 NOT 1B Chris Davis: 3-for-18 (.167), .652 OPS, HR, 3 RBI, 6 K

Alvarez has taken advantage of extra playing time in the absence of Mark Trumbo, and clubbed a game-winning grand slam in Friday night’s extra innings victory over the Yankees … Machado hit his first two home runs of the season on Friday in New York, perhaps auditioning for his new team next year? Uncharacteristically, he has just four extra-base hits this year … The sample is still small, but the Jays will face another team who has struggled with runners in scoring position this year. Baltimore is hitting just .203 in that scenario this season, and .171 with RISP/2-out.

Ex-Files

Toronto:

  • LF Steve Pearce (2012, 13-16): 291 games played, 999 plate appearances, 46 HR, 122 RBI

Baltimore:

  • OF Colby Rasmus (2011-14): 408 games played, 66 HR, 194 RBI. Rasmus had just two hits in 23 plate appearances before being placed on the 10-day DL with a left hip flexor strain on Saturday.
  • IF Danny Valancia (2014-15):  108 games played, 9 HR, 48 RBI. The utility man has played in four games thus far in 2018 (two starts), notching one hit in 10 plate appearances.

In The Hole

Toronto will rest up and travel on Thursday, before concluding the first roadie of the season with a weekend set in Cleveland against old buddy Edwin Encarnacion. They’ll then return home for three games with the Kansas Royals, finishing up a stretch of 12 straight games against 2015-16 playoff opponents.

Social

Don’t forget to follow us all season long on Twitter @jaysbalk. And find The 7th Inning Stretch Podcast on iTunes, Google Play and Soundcloud.

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