Literature aficionado and professional baseball player Brett Lawrie tweeted this simple quote late last night:
Dorthy said it best .. There's no place like home— Brett Lawrie (@blawrie13) May 28, 2012
The Toronto Blue Jays, the team that Lawrie plays on, just finished a 1-5 road trip that saw their record drop to .500 (24-24) for the first time since April 9 when they were 2-2. The Blue Jays are now tied with the Boston Red Sox for last place in the American League, but they are still just 2.5 games out of a playoff spot. Interestingly, the American League has unusual parity in terms of run differential: Tampa Bay is at +16, Baltimore, Boston, and Toronto are at +17, and New York leads at +19.
In the Rogers Centre tonight facing against the Blue Jays are the surprising 29-19 (.604) Baltimore Orioles, who are holding onto a half-game lead in the AL East. On the shelf for the blue birds is shortstop Yunel Escobar is out with a sore groin after he pulled it hustling to first in Sunday's game. For half a game Sunday, we saw Jose Bautista at 3B, Brett Lawrie at SS, Omar Vizquel at 2B, and David Cooper at 1B--who would've predicted that we'd see that defensive alignment just a couple of weeks ago?
The bullpen is still tired after throwing a combined 352 pitches over 18.2 innings this past weekend, but I think most of them are available to pitch tonight thanks to a 5-inning effort by newcomer Jesse Chavez yesterday. I would think that Chavez and Carlos Villanueva are the only relievers unavailable tonight, and newly recalled Aaron Laffey will be counted on if long relief is needed tonight. The Blue Jays are still hoping for a 6-inning outing from starter Drew Hutchison to give their bullpen a longer breather.
Speaking of Hutchison, he is looking to bounce back from the worst start of his short career, when he went only 4 innings giving up 6 runs on 7 hits against the Tampa Bay Rays. Like previous starts, he was victimized by a big inning (the Rays scored 5 in the 4th), which I am sure he would like to avoid tonight. Hutchison has been good early on in games (first time around the order batters are hitting .186/.238/.339) needs to show that he can get batters out the second time through the order (.340/.429/.491).
|2012 - Drew Hutchison||3-2||7||7||0||0||0||0||37.2||44||25||24||5||14||27||5.73||1.54|
The Baltimore Orioles counter with righty Tommy Hunter (whom I used to confuse with Hunter S. Thompson). Hunter's last really good start was against the Blue Jays in Toronto, where he threw a 6-inning 3-hitter, giving up only a single run on Eric Thames' first homer of the season back on April 24. In his 5 starts since that game, Hunter has given up 2, 5, 4, 2, and 5 runs. With the offense starting to come around for the Blue Jays, let's hope they help Hunter continue his recent trends.
|2012 - Tommy Hunter||2-2||9||9||0||0||0||0||55.0||60||34||31||11||14||31||5.07||1.35|
Lineups and ground rules after the jump!
Lineup (Stolen From Camden Chat)
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||TORONTO BLUE JAYS|
|Xavier Avery - LF||Kelly Johnson - 2B|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Colby Rasmus - CF|
|Nick Markakis - RF||Jose Bautista - RF|
|Adam Jones - CF||Edwin Encarnacion - DH|
|Matt Wieters - C||Eric Thames - LF|
|Wilson Betemit - 3B||Brett Lawrie - 3B|
|Chris Davis - 1B||David Cooper - 1B|
|Mark Reynolds - DH||Jeff Mathis - C|
|Robert Andino - 2B||Omar Vizquel - SS|
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