The Toronto Blue Jays’ bats have been relatively quiet so far.
Facing the Baltimore Orioles would normally give the Blue Jays a chance to turn things around, but that may not be the case this time.
Toronto looks to maintain its home-field edge over the Orioles on Friday night when these AL East rivals meet for the first time in 2012.
Despite getting off to a 4-2 start after winning two of three over Boston earlier this week, the Blue Jays have struck out 54 times and are batting .202 following their three-hit effort in Wednesday’s 3-1 victory.
Two-time reigning home run champion Jose Bautista has one of the team’s four homers and is hitless in his last 12 at-bats.
“He’s struggled to find his timing,” manager John Farrell said. “… But there were times last year, and I’m sure the year before, where he goes through some stretches where his timing is off a little bit.”
Bautista hit .219 (14 for 64) with two homers against Baltimore in 2011, when Toronto batted .280 with 29 home runs while winning 12 of 18 in the series.
The Blue Jays have won 29 of 34 at home versus the Orioles and haven’t lost a series to them at Rogers Centre since dropping two of three June 6-8, 2008.
While the Orioles (3-3) don’t have history on their side, or momentum after getting swept by New York this week, they have to feel good about their pitching.
Baltimore has yielded five homers – four in the last three games – and has a 2.79 ERA. The Orioles gave up a major league-high 210 homers in 2011 and posted the majors’ worst ERA at 4.89.
“The one good thing about our sport is there’s always an opportunity to feel better very quickly,” manager Buck Showalter said following Wednesday’s 6-4, 10-inning loss. “You don’t have to sit on it very long. It’s something that we’re going to learn from and we’re going to get better. I like what I’m seeing.”
Showalter would like to see another strong effort from Friday’s scheduled starter Tommy Hunter (1-0, 0.00 ERA). The right-hander surrendered two runs over seven innings of Saturday’s 8-2 victory over Minnesota.
“(Starters) are supposed to go out and supposed to throw six, seven innings a game,” Hunter, 0-2 with a 7.43 ERA in two starts in Toronto, told the Orioles’ official website.
Brandon Morrow (0-0, 0.00) gets the ball for the Blue Jays as they continue their nine-game homestand. The right-hander allowed one hit in seven innings – a two-run homer – in Saturday’s 7-4, 12-inning victory at Cleveland.
“When (Morrow is) around the plate and he pitches ahead, he’s as tough as any one of those guys that have big names,” Indians manager Manny Acta told the Blue Jays’ official website.
Morrow went 0-2 with a 7.36 ERA in two starts against Baltimore in 2011.
Shortstop J.J. Hardy hit two homers off Morrow in a 12-4 victory July 26 as Baltimore won its second straight in Toronto following 16 straight defeats.
Orioles catcher Matt Wieters is hitless in his last 16 at-bats at Rogers Centre, but he’s batting .364 after a 7-for-13 effort in the Yankees series.
Bautista is 3 for 17 with no home runs versus Hunter, while first baseman Adam Lind has three hits in 19 at-bats against him.
Lind hit a team-high six home runs versus Baltimore last season but none in the last 11 games.