The Jays start a 3 game series with the AL East leading Baltimore Orioles at Rogers Centre.
The O's are 58-43, 1.5 games up on the Jays (to start the series).
They are fourth in the AL in runs scored per game, at 4.78 (Jays are third at 4.91). They are leading the league in home runs, with 150, 6 more than our Jays.
On the defensive side, they are seventh in the AL in runs allowed per game at 4.42 (Jays are third at 4.17).
I sent off questions to Mark Brown manager of Camden Chat, SB Nation's Orioles blog. Here is what he had to say:
Not many were picking the Orioles to be at the top of the AL East. Are you surprised? What do you think of their chances to finish on top?
I'm not surprised that not many people picked the Orioles to be leading the AL East. I am surprised that it's happening. I didn't pick them to be there, either. You've caught me feeling pessimistic about the Orioles because key middle-of-the-order hitters like Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo have been going through big slumps since the All-Star break and I don't think the starting rotation is going to get better. I think that they MIGHT be able to hold on, but with two tough teams chasing them they're going to have to play better to stay where they are. It could happen but I'll be nervous to the very end.
What or who has been you biggest surprise this season?
My biggest surprise is the emergence of Zach Britton and Brad Brach as an incredible back end of the bullpen duo. Both of those guys were pretty good last year, but neither one of them was THIS good, so much so that once it hits the eighth inning with the Orioles having a lead, that's basically that. Britton's 0.63 ERA is miniscule and although Brach's stumbled just a bit since the All-Star break, he still sports a 1.17 ERA. They are great and now that I've said something one of them is sure to blow a game in this series. Sigh.
I don't think there can be any doubt that the biggest disappointment is Ubaldo Jimenez. There were some hopes that he would be able to at least have another average-ish season like he did last year and he's been nothing less than a disaster, staying in the starting rotation mostly out of desperation. They've given him a start in the make-up game in Minnesota on Thursday night (result after this was written, sorry) but I don't expect that to last unless he comes out and hurls a no-hitter.
What do you expect the Orioles to do at the trade deadline?
For a while, I was convinced that the Orioles practically had to trade for a starting pitcher, but I wasn't sure which one or how they'd be able to pull it off. Now that we're down to the final few days, seeing the rumors that are out there, it really doesn't sound like there is a good deal. Am I supposed to get excited about Andrew Cashner or Jeremy Hellickson? I think they'll do SOMETHING but I'm not convinced it'll be a trade for a starter. Over the last couple of days, a couple of different writers, including one of ours, suggested they might look to improve the bullpen instead to give them even more weapons there.
Basing this response off seeing Gausman-Gallardo-Tillman listed on the O's website.
Kevin Gausman has this weird thing going on where he's yet to receive a win in a road game this year. Not that pitcher wins/losses mean anything beyond a curiosity to discuss. The no-win thing is more a function of the Orioles inexplicably hating to score runs whenever Gausman is on the mound than Gausman himself pitching poorly. He gives up more homers than I'd like but he looks like he's starting to get the hang of this MLB starting thing.
Yovani Gallardo - maybe he's actually starting to look like the guy the Orioles gave up their first round pick to sign. I think I actually saw him hit 91 in his last start. The fact that I'm excited about this is really all you need to know about him. His stuff is diminished, he walks too many guys, and I never expect him to go more than five innings.
Chris Tillman, well, you guys destroyed him a lot last year. He's better this year and is even getting a puzzling amount of Cy Young buzz at this point in time. He rattled off four straight seven inning starts to begin July but now he's coming off one of his worst starts of the year (5 IP, 6 ER). I won't feel good about him against your offense with the roof open in a day game.
If you could take one Oriole from the past and put him on today's team, who would it be?
Geez, that's a tough one. Given that it's been the starting rotation holding the Orioles back this year, I feel like the only answer I can possibly give is Hall of Famer Jim Palmer, three-time Cy Young winner, six-time All-Star, four-time Gold Glover, never gave up a grand slam in a career that spanned 19 years and 3,948 innings pitched. He's also the only MLB pitcher to ever win a World Series game in three different decades.
Good choice, I'd take him too.
Who is the better manager and why? Buck Showalter or Earl Weaver?
You will never get me to answer this question. What I will say is that Weaver retired for good when I was two years old, so everything that I have experienced of him is by legend only. I am quite happy with what Buck Showalter has done with the franchise in the time he has been the manager and I think Ol' Earl, if his ghost ever checks in on us, would surely be pleased too. Now maybe Buck can finally get to win a World Series.
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