Although R.A. Dickey was forced to leave his last start early, he's feeling well enough to give it a go Tuesday night.
The Baltimore Orioles can't be happy to hear that.
Dickey, who completely baffled manager Buck Showalter's team last season, tries to win a third straight start as the Toronto Blue Jays continue a three-game set against the Orioles at Camden Yards.
After compiling an 8.44 ERA over his first two outings, Dickey (2-2, 4.30 ERA) has since found his form, posting a 0.73 mark in winning his last two. The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner scattered two hits and struck out seven over six scoreless innings Thursday in a 3-1 win over the Chicago White Sox before exiting due to tightness in his neck and back.
"I had a knuckleball tonight where I would have thrown a complete game," he said, "so it was unfortunate that (the injury) acted up on me."
Dickey skipped his bullpen session between starts, instead choosing to play catch. He's eager to get back on the mound but isn't sure how long he'll last.
"I feel better than I did leading into my last start. I think we've given it enough rest and treatment," he said. "It tends to tighten up as the game goes along."
Dickey has recorded a 0.56 ERA in winning his last two starts versus Baltimore (11-8), including a brilliant performance last June 18 while with the New York Mets . The veteran knuckleballer fanned a career high-tying 13 and threw a one-hitter in a 5-0 victory.
"He's not like (Tim) Wakefield flipping it up there 60 miles an hour, this guy is throwing with some velocity on it," Chris Davis , who went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts that night, told MLB's official website afterward.
"He's got a couple of different looks, and he still throws some other pitches, too, to complement that. He's throwing anywhere from 78 to 83 miles an hour - that's a hard knuckleball. You just got to grit your teeth and bear it."
Dickey could have his hands full this time around against an Orioles team that's hitting .429 with runners in scoring position during a 4-1 run. Baltimore had gone 0 for 7 in such situations Monday before Nick Markakis came through with a two-out, bases-loaded single in the ninth inning for a 2-1 win.
Toronto (8-12) finds itself at the bottom of the AL East after dropping five of seven. Manager John Gibbons refused to blame shortstop Munenori Kawasaki for his costly throwing error that loaded the bases for Baltimore.
"To hang that on him, I'm not about to do that," Gibbons said. "You win as a team and lose as a team. They got the big hit when they needed it."
Edwin Encarnacion went 1 for 4 with a run scored Monday - his only hit in his last 18 at-bats. Jose Bautista saw his average dip back down to .200 after going 0 for 4. The slugging right fielder is batting .071 (2 for 28) over his last nine games against the Orioles.
Baltimore now turns to Miguel Gonzalez (1-1, 4.00), who gave up a career worst-tying three homers and five runs over 5 2-3 innings Thursday in a 10-6 , 10-inning win over Tampa Bay. The right-hander is 1-1 with a 4.73 ERA over two starts against the Blue Jays.
Colby Rasmus is 0 for 7 with three strikeouts against Gonzalez, and Encarnacion is 1 for 7. That hit, though, left the yard.
The Orioles have taken eight of 10 from the Blue Jays at home.
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|April 22, 2013||Maicer Izturis||Day-to-Day||Sore hamstring|
|April 14, 2013||Sergio Santos||15-Day DL||Right triceps strain|
|April 13, 2013||Jose Reyes||15-Day DL||Sprained left ankle|
|April 12, 2013||Jose Reyes||Day-to-Day||Sprained left ankle|
|April 11, 2013||Darren Oliver||Day-to-Day||Arm|
|April 04, 2013||Jose Bautista||Day-to-Day||Left game - Twisted ankle|
|April 07, 2013||Nolan Reimold||Day-to-Day||Right hamstring tightness|
|April 05, 2013||Brian Roberts||15-Day DL||Ruptured tendon, right knee|
|April 04, 2013||Brian Roberts||Day-to-Day||Right hamstring injury|
|March 26, 2013||Wilson Betemit||60-Day DL||Right PCL tear|
|March 23, 2013||Steve Johnson||15-Day DL||Strained right lat|
|March 22, 2013||Tsuyoshi Wada||60-Day DL||Recovery from left elbow surgery|
BALTIMORE (AP) -- After the Baltimore Orioles struck early against R.A. Dickey, the Toronto Blue Jays spent the rest of the night trying to overcome the deficit.
Once the game reached the eighth inning, Toronto's chances of completing the comeback were all but gone.
Manny Machado had two hits and two RBIs, and Baltimore squeezed out a 4-3 victory Tuesday night with significant help from its trusty bullpen.
It was the 100th consecutive game the Orioles have won when leading after seven innings, a streak that began in August 2011.
"Obviously, it means that guys are throwing the ball well in the bullpen, getting put in good opportunities and doing what they're supposed to do," said closer Jim Johnson , who worked the ninth to earn his eighth save in eight tries.
"Our bullpen hasn't failed us yet, knock on wood," Machado said. "They do a good job in holding the lead. Once the ninth inning comes, Jimmy comes out, and you know it's lights out because you know he's going to shut the door for us."
Miguel Gonzalez (2-1) allowed three runs in six innings for the Orioles, who have won nine of 13. By taking the first two games of the three-game set, Baltimore improved to 5-2 in seven series this season - including 4-1 against the AL East.
"We know who we have to beat," Johnson said.
Edwin Encarnacion hit a three-run homer for the last-place Blue Jays, who have dropped six of eight. Dickey yielded four runs in the second inning, and Toronto never got out of the hole.
"We had some chances late. We just couldn't get that big hit," manager John Gibbons said. "Dickey battled all night long. You wish you could take away that one inning, but you can't in this business."
Dickey (2-3) gave up four runs, six hits and five walks in six innings. The knuckleballer, who left his previous start with neck and back pain, did not appear to be in discomfort on the mound. But he sure looked uncomfortable during the four-run second.
"I'm definitely not 100 percent," Dickey said. "I'm giving everything I can possibly give but it feels like going to battle with a three-shooter instead of a six-shooter. You just don't have what you normally have. You feel like what you have is good enough to keep your team in it. But it's frustrating because you want to give more."
Dickey was outdone by Gonzalez, who allowed five hits and three walks. The Orioles right-hander blanked Toronto on three hits through five innings before staggering through the sixth.
In the eighth, after the Blue Jays put runners at the corners with two outs against Pedro Strop , Melky Cabrera looked at a third strike on a 3-2 pitch.
Baltimore did all its scoring while batting around in the second. Adam Jones led off with a single, Chris Davis singled and Matt Wieters punched an opposite-field RBI single to left. After Nolan Reimold added a sacrifice fly, the Orioles loaded the bases with two outs for Machado, who singled in two runs.
"That second inning was a very quirky inning," Dickey said. "Not a lot of hard contact."
Toronto put runners at first and third with one out in the third before Munenori Kawasaki bounced into a double play. Baltimore also turned a double play in the fourth.
Gonzalez was cruising until the sixth, when he got the first two outs before walking Adam Lind and Jose Bautista . That brought a visit to the mound by pitching coach Rick Adair, and Encarnacion drove Gonzalez's next pitch over the left-field wall. Cabrera followed with a triple, but Gonzalez escaped further damage by getting Brett Lawrie to hit a fly ball.
NOTES: Josh Stinson will start for the Orioles on Wednesday afternoon in the series finale. It will be the second big league start for Stinson, who previously pitched for the Mets and Brewers. Claimed on waivers from Oakland on April 4, the right-hander said in the clubhouse Tuesday, "This is a great opportunity for me." Toronto will start Brandon Morrow (0-2, 5.57 ERA). ... Toronto claimed LHP Aaron Laffey from the Mets. Laffey went 4-6 with the Blue Jays last season. To make room for Laffey, RHP Ramon Ortiz was designated for assignment. ... Lind was moved to the No. 2 spot in the Toronto lineup after adding 168 points to his on-base percentage since April 14. "We're just basically looking to change something up. He's been getting on base a lot lately," Gibbons said. Lind went 1 for 2 with a walk. ... Orioles pitching prospect Dylan Bundy visited Dr. James Andrews to get a second opinion on his ailing right arm. Bundy has experienced pain in the forearm-elbow region.