While the Baltimore Orioles concluded an overall successful road trip in disappointing fashion over the weekend, they return home with what appears to be a good opportunity to get back on track.
The Orioles continue their quest for the AL East title Monday in a doubleheader against the Toronto Blue Jays, who try to avoid a season high-tying seventh consecutive defeat and sixth straight at Camden Yards.
Baltimore's season-best six-game winning streak came to end with a 2-1 loss to Boston on Sunday, completing its trek with a 6-3 record. The Orioles (87-65) wasted a chance to draw even with division-leading New York and saw their wild-card lead over Oakland cut to one after the Athletics beat the Yankees 5-4.
"We needed this one. Obviously, going down to this last stretch every game is looked at as a must win," center fielder Adam Jones said. "We had a good road trip. We really, really wanted this one to finish off the road trip, but it happens."
The Orioles have to like their chances of bouncing back with the last-place Blue Jays (66-85) coming to town. Toronto has hit .182 and been outscored 24-9 in dropping all five games in Baltimore this season.
Losers of 10 of 12 overall, the Blue Jays are coming off an 0-6 trip. Toronto dropped three in a row to the Yankees before totaling six runs in three games against Tampa Bay over the weekend, falling 3-0 on Sunday.
"We had opportunities in the fifth, sixth and seventh," manager John Farrell said. "A two-out hit was elusive, and in the end we're sitting there with a goose egg on the board."
Scoring runs might not be any easier for Toronto in the series opener against Steve Johnson (3-0, 1.91 ERA). The rookie has made two starts among his 10 appearances this year - the last one coming Aug. 25 versus the Blue Jays, when he gave up two runs, four hits and struck out seven over six innings to win 8-2.
Johnson has posted a 3.00 ERA in his two starts while striking out 16 in 12 innings. The right-hander has thrown 11 1-3 scoreless innings of relief since the Aug. 25 outing.
Opposing Johnson will be Henderson Alvarez (9-13, 4.87), who yielded three runs over seven innings of a 4-2 road loss to New York on Wednesday.
The right-hander is 1-1 with a 2.48 ERA in four career starts against the Orioles, pitching at least seven innings and allowing three or fewer runs in each appearance.
Wei-Yin Chen (12-9, 3.98) and fellow hard-luck left-hander Ricky Romero (8-14, 5.72) will square off in Game 2.
Chen has gone 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA in his last five outings - a stretch in which the Orioles have provided him with an average of 2.1 runs of support.
In his last start, Chen allowed two runs in 5 1-3 innings of a 4-2, 18-inning win at Seattle on Tuesday. This will be his first appearance against Toronto.
Romero, 0-13 with a 7.42 ERA in his last 15 starts, finally showed signs of coming around in the nightcap of a doubleheader against New York on Wednesday. He allowed one run in six innings despite walking five and giving up seven hits in a 2-1 loss. He didn't get a decision.
"Obviously, you want to go deeper into the game and you aren't happy with the five walks, but there were some good walks, meaning you didn't give in to some hitters in some situations," Romero told the Blue Jays' official website. "It was finally giving that late bite and fooling some hitters; it's a good sign."
Romero's losing streak is tied for the longest in team history, a mark set by Tom Underwood from Aug. 28, 1978-June 10, 1979.
Romero, though, has gone 7-1 with a 2.43 ERA in his last nine matchups with Baltimore. He gave up four runs in six innings in his only game against them this season, an 8-6 victory May 29.
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|September 16, 2012||Edwin Encarnacion||Day-to-Day||Sore right big toe|
|September 04, 2012||J.A. Happ||15-Day DL||Fractured right foot|
|August 27, 2012||Henderson Alvarez||Day-to-Day||Left game - left shin contusion|
|August 27, 2012||Aaron Laffey||Day-to-Day||Left game - left calf contusion|
|August 26, 2012||Jose Bautista||15-Day DL||Left wrist inflammation|
|August 23, 2012||David Cooper||15-Day DL||Upper back soreness|
|September 11, 2012||Jason Hammel||Day-to-Day||Left game - right knee injury|
|September 09, 2012||Nick Markakis||Day-to-Day||Broken left thumb|
|September 02, 2012||Chris Tillman||Day-to-Day||Left game - stiff right elbow|
|August 22, 2012||Matt Wieters||Day-to-Day||Left game - right shoulder contusion|
|August 13, 2012||Troy Patton||15-Day DL||Sprained right ankle|
|August 13, 2012||Troy Patton||15-Day DL||Sprained right ankle|
BALTIMORE (AP) -- The Baltimore Orioles dreaded this doubleheader ever since it became part of their schedule late last month.
Beating the same team twice on the same day is not an easy task, even if the opposition is a last-place club in the midst of a losing streak. And so, after Toronto earned a split with a 9-5 win Monday night, the Orioles shrugged their shoulders and looked ahead to another day of chasing the New York Yankees in the AL East.
"Very hard to sweep a doubleheader in the major leagues," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. "It wasn't from a lack of effort. That's why when you get a rainout, you try to play because you know the challenge ahead of you somewhere down the line. The Blue Jays have a lot of pride."
J.P. Arencibia broke open a tight game with a seventh-inning grand slam, leaving the Orioles 1 1/2 games out of first place in the division.
In the opener, Adam Jones went 4 for 4 with a homer and two RBIs to lead Baltimore to a 4-1 victory. But the Orioles lost a half-game in the standings to the Yankees, who won 6-3 at Minnesota.
The doubleheader came into being after the teams endured a rainout on Aug. 26.
"You never want to play games like this late in the season," Baltimore right fielder Chris Davis said. "But at the same time, if you can win both of them, you help yourself out. Obviously we weren't able to do that."
The Orioles fell behind 4-0 in the nightcap and missed several bases-loaded chances to take the lead before Arencibia connected off Jake Arrieta to give Toronto a 9-4 cushion.
"I think anytime you strand guys on base you know it's a missed opportunity," Davis said.
Edwin Encarnacion hit his 41st home run for the Blue Jays, who snapped a seven-game skid. Arencibia, who came into the game mired in a 2-for-36 slump, finished with three hits and five RBIs.
Toronto long ago fell out of playoff contention, but the Jays were reminded how fun it is while performing before an enthusiastic crowd of 31,015.
"It's pretty impressive the atmosphere they have here," Arencibia said. "It's a lot of fun to play in that kind of atmosphere."
Ricky Romero (9-14) allowed four runs, eight hits, four walks and a homer in five-plus innings. But a strong performance by the Toronto bullpen enabled the left-hander to end a 13-game losing streak over 15 starts since June 22.
"Good for him and good for us," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "We needed a win and it's been a long time since Ricky's had a W."
Encarnacion put the Blue Jays up 2-0 against Wei-Yin Chen (12-10) with a two-run drive in the first inning. In the second, Arencibia hit a sacrifice fly and Anthony Gose added an RBI single.
Robert Andino singled in two runs in the bottom half, but Baltimore left the bases loaded. Nate McLouth hit an opposite-field drive to left in the fifth to get Baltimore to 4-3, but the Orioles again left the bases full.
After Moises Sierra homered for Toronto in the sixth, the Orioles loaded the bases with no outs in their half, bringing many in the crowd to their feet. Brad Lincoln replaced Romero and gave up a first-pitch RBI single to J.J. Hardy before striking out Jones. Davis followed with a fly ball to Gose in left field, and Taylor Teagarden was thrown out at the plate after tagging up.
Baltimore also loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth, but scored only once on a double-play grounder.
In the first game, Orioles rookie Steve Johnson (4-0) allowed three hits over five shutout innings to lower his ERA to 1.62. Half his big league wins have come against Toronto.
Although the Blue Jays got two runners on base in three of the first four innings, Johnson worked out of trouble on each occasion.
Jim Johnson , the fifth Baltimore pitcher, worked the ninth for his major league-best 48th save in 51 opportunities.
Jones' four hits tied a career high. Now in his seventh season, Jones has already set career highs with 32 homers and 101 runs, and the All-Star center fielder needs only three RBIs to eclipse his previous high of 83, set last year.
Jones added a single and a double in the nightcap and has hit safely in 19 of 23 games in September, with six home runs and 13 RBIs.
"Adam relishes competition," Showalter said. "He's obviously had a heck of a year. He's turning into quite a player."
Henderson Alvarez (9-14) gave up four runs, eight hits and three walks in 5 2-3 innings. He is 2-7 in his last 10 starts.
In the fourth, Davis walked and Jones followed with a drive to left to put Baltimore up 2-0. Ryan Flaherty hit a solo shot in the fifth, and Jones singled in the sixth and came home on a double-play grounder.
Toronto scored in the eighth on an RBI double by Rajai Davis . With runners on second and third and two outs, Darren O'Day came in to strike out Kelly Johnson .
NOTES: Toronto purchased the contracts of RHPs Shawn Hill and Bobby Korecky and transferred LHP J.A. Happ (foot) to the 60-day DL. ... Orioles LHP Randy Wolf is experiencing discomfort in his left elbow and will undergo an MRI on Tuesday. ... Seventeen of Jones' HRs have given the Orioles the lead. Baltimore is 23-8 when he homers. ... Toronto's first-game defeat was its sixth straight in Baltimore, its longest single-season skid in Charm City since 1980. The Orioles are 10-6 against the Blue Jays, clinching their first season series win over Toronto since 2004. ... Omar Vizquel got two hits to move into a tie with Mel Ott for 40th on the career list with 2,876.