Following a disappointing setback on Saturday in their postseason push, the Orioles on Sunday will turn their sights toward notching a series victory against the Blue Jays in the first stop of a crucial 10-game road trip.
Entering their final road stretch of the season, the Orioles' postseason chances were on rocky ground after they had lost four of their last five games, including three straight to the division rival -- and fellow Wild Card hopeful -- Yankees. Their playoff hopes took another hit on Saturday, as the 4-3 loss dropped Baltimore to three games back of the Rays for the final Wild Card spot heading into Tampa Bay's game Saturday night against the Twins.
The Orioles will look to cut into that deficit on Sunday when they call on righty Miguel Gonzalez in the series finale. Though Gonzalez struggled in his Aug. 30 return to the rotation following two relief appearances, he has turned in two consecutive quality starts to begin September.
After limiting the White Sox to just one run over seven innings on Sept. 5, Gonzalez on Tuesday held the Yankees to three runs over six innings and departed with a 4-3 lead. He ultimately settled for the no-decision, however, after the Yanks rallied to victory against Baltimore's bullpen.
The Blue Jays will counter with veteran Mark Buehrle as they look to continue playing the role of spoiler.
Unlike his club, Buehrle has been able to shake his poor start and salvage a respectable season. Despite a disastrous outing his last time out, the 34-year-old southpaw is 6-2 with a 3.07 ERA in 11 starts since the All-Star break, a far cry from his 5-6 record and 4.89 ERA in 19 first-half outings.
On Tuesday, Buehrle suffered his first loss in his last 10 starts as he conceded eight runs off a season-high 12 hits over just four innings of work against the Angels. In his previous nine outings, he had gone 6-0 with a 2.02 ERA.
"The whole game I wasn't making pitches; everything was up, falling behind in the count," Buehrle said. "I feel like I have been pitching so well for so long that you kind of have a bump in the road once in a while, and [Tuesday] was that day."
Orioles: Davis locked in versus Blue Jays
Chris Davis has been on a tear all season, but the O's first baseman has been especially dominant against the divisional rival Blue Jays. After reaching the 50-homer plateau with a blast in Friday's series opener, Davis added an RBI double in Saturday's loss.
The two-bagger extended Davis' hitting streak vs. Toronto to 12 games, and he has also driven in at least one run in six consecutive contests against the Blue Jays. Overall, he is hitting .327 (18-for-55) with seven home runs, six doubles and 17 RBIs in the teams' 15 meetings this season.
It's not a new trend by any means, as Davis' .330 lifetime average, 19 home runs and 47 RBIs against the Blue Jays are all personal bests for the slugger against any American League team.
Blue Jays: Lawrie could have new home in batting order
Prior to Saturday, third baseman Brett Lawrie had slotted into every position in the Blue Jays' batting order at least once, except for one -- the No. 2 spot.
Yet on Saturday that's exactly where Lawrie found himself. Given Lawrie's balanced offensive skill set, manager John Gibbons said hitting behind the leadoff man could ultimately prove to be the perfect spot for the athletic third baseman.
"That two-hole might be a good spot for him," Gibbons said. "Brett, looking down the road, can almost fill in anywhere. We think he's going to be a good hitter. We think he's going to hit for average, he's going to hit his share of home runs, drive in some runs, so he can really slot in anywhere. You like him up top because he's got some speed so he's not going to clog anything up, and he can make some things happen on the bases."
Lawrie went just 1-for-4 on Saturday, but is still hitting .290 with six home runs and 27 RBIs since the All-Star break following a disappointing start to the season.
• Buehrle needs to pitch 10 2/3 innings down the stretch to notch his 13th straight season of recording at least 30 starts, 200 innings pitched and double-digit victories. In his first 30 starts this season, he is 11-8 with a 4.18 ERA.