After lost weekend in Cleveland, Orioles visit Toronto

Sports Xchange

September 11, 2017 at 12:56 am.

TORONTO — At least the Baltimore Orioles will not be facing a juggernaut in their next series as they try to keep their wild-card hopes alive.

They instead will deal with a jugger-not in the Toronto Blue Jays for a three-game series that opens Monday night at the Rogers Centre.

The Orioles just completed a three-game series against the Cleveland Indians Sunday night, and they endured the fate of all teams that meet the Indians these days.

They lost all three as the Indians extended their winning streak to 18 games with a 3-2 victory at Progressive Field.

Contrast that to the Blue Jays, who defeated the Detroit Tigers 8-2 Sunday afternoon for their second win in a row. It was the first time that they won back-to-back games since Aug. 16-17.

The Orioles (71-72) are still within three games of the second American League wild-card spot, while the Blue Jays (66-77) are eight games out of the last AL playoff position and looking toward next season.

In the series opener, Baltimore will start right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, who has had recent success at the Rogers Centre. Toronto will give the ball to right-hander Marco Estrada, who has had success in his career against Baltimore.

Jimenez (5-9, 6.80 ERA) will try to duplicate his start at the Rogers Centre on June 29 when he held the Blue Jays to two hits, one walk and no runs while striking out eight over eight innings in a 2-0 victory.

“Ubaldo has always been tough on us,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said after that game. “He was good … but he’s always had our number. He was sticking it pretty good. He did a nice job.”

Jimenez also blanked the Blue Jays on one hit over 6 2/3 innings in a 4-0 win at the Rogers Centre last Sept. 29.

In 19 career games (17 starts) vs. Toronto, Jimenez is 8-5 with a 4.12 ERA. He is 3-3 with a 4.89 ERA in eight career outings (seven starts) at the Rogers Centre.

He has not won since Aug. 6, and made an appearance out of the bullpen on Tuesday, tossing a scoreless inning against the Yankees.

Estrada (7-8, 5.00 ERA) has turned his season around after some struggles. He is 3-1 with a 3.98 ERA in his past nine starts beginning July 26.

He did not factor in the decision Tuesday at Boston when he allowed three hits, three walks and no runs in seven innings. The Blue Jays lost the game 3-2 in 19 innings.

Estrada is 2-0 with a 3.16 ERA in four starts against the Orioles this season and 6-1 with a 3.20 ERA in 14 career outings (12 starts) against them.

He picked up the win against the Orioles at Camden Yards on Aug. 31 despite allowing 10 hits and six runs in five innings. Toronto won 11-8.

The Orioles continued to struggle with the bats during their series against Cleveland’s stellar pitching staff.

“This is the big leagues,” Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph said. “They’re all really tough. We know coming into it, their staff is really good. Each team we face has got two or three guys that are All-Star-caliber pitchers.”

The Blue Jays, meanwhile, take heart from the play of some of their September call-ups. Left fielder Teoscar Hernandez had three hits Sunday, including two homers, and right-hander Luis Santos pitched three scoreless innings to pick up his first career save.

Darwin Barney, who filled in at third base for the ill Josh Donaldson in the series against Detroit, collected four hits Sunday. He had praise for Hernandez, 24.

“Couldn’t have happened to a better person,” Barney said. “I was happy for him. Standing in the on-deck circle and you see a guy go deep like that a couple of times, all you want to do is go deep behind him. … That’s not my game, but it’s fun to watch a guy come up here, have excitement, spark some things and make it happen. Hopefully he can keep it going.

“If you’ve been around the game for a while, it’s nice to see the wide-eyed look, the excitement, bring some energy to these games where maybe both teams aren’t necessarily where they want to be. There’s a lot to be played for right now for some people, so it was fun to watch.”

The Blue Jays could have Donaldson back for the Orioles series.

Outfielder Craig Gentry (broken right finger) could rejoin the Orioles during the series in Toronto after being checked out by a doctor in Baltimore on Monday.

“We’re hoping the doctor clears him and he’ll join us in Toronto as, at worst, a pinch runner,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “Before that ligament (injury), people say why didn’t you just pinch-run him. Well, you couldn’t slide with it. If that ligament is reattached, then that risk factor goes away. They’re awaiting it. They have an X-ray machine that can do an X-ray as you’re moving it. That’s why he’s not here, the risk of injuring it. I’m hoping we get good news on Monday. We’ve missed him.”