The Baltimore Orioles have a decent chance at finishing with the second-highest home run total in franchise history.
Toronto Blue Jays starter Mark Buehrle has pitched very well on the road since the Orioles took him deep three times in his last start at Camden Yards.
The Orioles have homered six times in this series and could have some of their regulars back in the lineup in Thursday night's finale.
That didn't stop the Orioles from hitting four homers, two by No. 9 hitter Ryan Flaherty , in a 9-5 victory. Baltimore has a major league-best 208 homers - six shy of its total last year when it matched the 1998 and 1985 clubs for the second-highest total behind the 1996 team that went deep 257 times - the third-highest total in baseball history.
Buehrle (12-9, 4.09 ERA) would no doubt like to see a weakened Orioles lineup after he matched a season high by giving up eight runs over six innings in an 8-5 loss at Baltimore on July 12. Jones, J.J. Hardy and Chris Davis all took him deep.
The left-hander also lost two starts ago to the Orioles by yielding three runs in five innings in a 3-1 defeat Sept. 15. He then continued his road success Saturday in Boston by limiting the Red Sox to one run in six innings in a 4-2 victory, reaching 200 innings for the 13th straight season.
"Wish it was in a better situation," the first-year Blue Jay said.
Buehrle is 3-0 with a 2.48 ERA in six road starts since his last one in Camden Yards.
Davis is 6 for 14 with two homers lifetime off Buehrle, although he hasn't added to his major league-best 52 homers during this series.
Buehrle figures to get his first look at the Orioles' Jonathan Schoop , a 21-year-old prospect who had a successful major league debut Wednesday as he homered and scored three runs."My major league debut, it was good," he said. "It's the first experience and I'm never going to forget."
The Orioles guaranteed themselves back-to-back winning seasons but that isn't good enough for a team that nearly reached the AL championship series a year ago."We didn't make it to the playoffs. That was our goal," Hardy said. "I don't know how much we look at it as, 'All right, we got a winning season. Hurrah, hooray.'"
Baltimore will start right-hander Miguel Gonzalez (10-8, 3.94), who is 2-1 with a 2.96 ERA in four September outings as well as four against Toronto this year.
The last-place Blue Jays (72-86), one of the favorites to win the AL East in spring training, need one victory to avoid their first 90-loss campaign since going 67-94 in 2004.
Thursday's winner captures a season series tied at nine victories apiece.
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|September 21, 2013||Colby Rasmus||15-Day DL||Bruised left eye|
|September 17, 2013||Edwin Encarnacion||Day-to-Day||Left wrist surgery - out for season|
|September 16, 2013||Edwin Encarnacion||15-Day DL||Left wrist surgery - out for season|
|September 13, 2013||Brett Cecil||15-Day DL||Left elbow discomfort|
|September 08, 2013||Moises Sierra||Day-to-Day||Left game - lower back tightness|
|August 21, 2013||Jose Bautista||15-Day DL||Left hip bone bruise - out for season|
|September 25, 2013||Manny Machado||60-Day DL||Torn ligament, left knee|
|September 23, 2013||Manny Machado||Day-to-Day||Strained left knee|
|August 31, 2013||Eric Beaulac||15-Day DL||Torn labrum, right hip|
|August 28, 2013||Steve Pearce||15-Day DL||Left wrist inflammation|
|August 28, 2013||Steve Pearce||15-Day DL||Left wrist inflammation|
|August 16, 2013||Francisco Rodriguez||Day-to-Day||Strained right groin|
BALTIMORE (AP) -- Miguel Gonzalez spent time on the disabled list in May with a blister, went a month without a victory after the All-Star break and endured a span late this summer in which he earned only three wins in 11 starts.
If the Baltimore Orioles right-hander wants something positive to ponder this winter, he can think back to his final outing of the 2013 season.
Gonzalez pitched seven innings of two-hit ball and Matt Wieters homered as the Orioles beat the Toronto Blue Jays 3-2 on Thursday night.
Gonzalez (11-8) allowed one unearned run, struck out five and walked one. The only hits were a single by Kevin Pillar in the third inning and a double by J.P. Arencibia in the seventh.
"It was great," Gonzalez said. "I was commanding my fastball and my splitty. I threw enough off-speed for strikes for them swing at and we finished strong."
Gonzalez retired 13 straight batters before Arencibia's double. It was the first game this season in which Gonzalez didn't give up a run.
"That was vintage Miggy," said Wieters, who had an excellent view behind the plate. "When he's on, he's able to mix in his off-speed stuff and locate his fastball. He was able to do that tonight and he actually had a good curveball and good slider to go with his splitty tonight."
Despite his injury and second-half slump, Gonzalez worked 171 1-3 innings and closed with a 3.78 ERA over 30 games, 28 of them starts.
"I thought it was great," he said. "I had a couple of up and downs, a couple of struggles, but it's a part of baseball."
Nick Markakis had two hits and an RBI for the Orioles, who won the season series 10-9. Baltimore is 13-5 at Camden Yards against the Blue Jays since the start of the 2012 season.
After Gonzalez left, Tommy Hunter took over in the eighth and yielded two singles before Brett Lawrie snapped an 0-for-18 skid with an RBI double. Hunter then struck out Moises Sierra and Anthony Gose with runners on second and third.
"We had a shot," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "If we get a little contact there, they're playing the infield back and that gives us that run. At least we tie it anyway. But that didn't happen."
Jim Johnson got three outs for his AL-leading 48th save.
Blue Jays starter Mark Buehrle (12-10) left the game with a bruised right calf after being struck by a line drive off the bat of Steve Pearce . Buehrle allowed three runs and eight hits in 3 1-3 innings, his shortest outing since Sept. 4, 2011, against Detroit.
It was Buehrle's 429th consecutive start without going on the disabled list. This injury was not serious, and his next start won't come until 2014.
"Got six months to recover so it doesn't really matter," he said. "It got me in the calf. I told him to at least let me finish off the inning. He said there's no reason, just get me out of there. I'm sure it'll tighten up and feel a little sore, but there's nothing."
The Blue Jays turned three double plays and Chad Jenkins allowed just one hit in 3 1-3 innings of relief. But it wasn't enough to prevent Toronto from absorbing its sixth loss in nine games.
Toronto got a first-inning run without benefit of a hit. Munenori Kawasaki walked and hustled around the bases to score from first on a dropped fly ball by left fielder Jason Pridie .
Wieters tied it in the second, hitting a curveball into the seats in left field for his 22nd home run.
In the Baltimore third, Brian Roberts singled and scored on a double by Markakis, who moved up on an infield hit and came home on a fly ball by Wieters.
NOTES: Major league home run leader Chris Davis was ill and given the night off by Orioles manager Buck Showalter. ... The Blue Jays played without 1B Adam Lind , whose "back locked up on him" Wednesday night, according to Gibbons. Lind was replaced at 1B by Ryan Langerhans , whose contract was purchased from Triple-A Buffalo before the game. Toronto moved LHP Brett Cecil (elbow) to the 60-day DL. ... Baltimore will be without OF Chris Dickerson (right hamstring) and 2B Alexi Casilla (thumb) for the rest of the season. ... The Blue Jays close out the season with a home series against the Tampa Bay Rays , and Baltimore will host the Boston Red Sox for a three-game set. The Orioles plan to start Scott Feldman , Wei-Yin Chen and Chris Tillman . ... Buehrle is 2-8 against the AL East and 10-2 against everyone else.