Orioles Infield Not
Hardy Group At Moment
When intact, the Orioles have one of the best left sides of the infield in baseball in shortstop J.J. Hardy, who delivers rare power at that position, and third baseman Manny Machado, who is peerless defensively at the hot corner. Alas, neither are healthy at the moment. Machado is of course still working his way back from tearing knee ligaments late last season. Hardy injured his hamstring Sunday night in Boston and missed Monday's game with a mild strain. He's very unlikely to play Tuesday and probably is out a minimum of a few more games.
Hardy, who hit 25 home runs last year, hasn't gone deep yet this season and is hitting .267 with four RBIs. The Orioles started Ryan Flaherty at short and Jonathan Schoop at third in Monday's 7-6 Patriots' Day victory in Boston. Not quite as formidable a duo. New Orioles closer Tommy Hunter got his fifth save of the year Monday but allowed an earned run for the third time in the past four appearances and has a concerning 4.50 ERA. Keep an eye on him, although Baltimore really doesn't have anyone else to turn to after trading Jim Johnson to Oakland this offseason.
The Orioles led the majors by far last season with 212 home runs, but they are struggling in that regard with 10 dingers, better than only Kansas City in the AL. Hardy has a goose egg there as does Nick Markakis. Chris Davis and Adam Jones have one each. By comparison, Toronto has gone deep 18 times, thanks largely to Jose Bautista (six) and Melky Cabrera (four). Edwin Encarnacion, who hit 78 home runs combined the past two seasons, still hasn't gone yard and is batting only .230. Regulars Colby Rasmus and Brett Lawrie are currently below the Mendoza Line.
Toronto took two of three against Cleveland over the weekend and got great news Saturday when shortstop Jose Reyes was activated off the DL. He injured a hamstring on March 31. Reyes still is looking for his first stolen base; he hasn't even attempted one. The Jays lost first baseman Adam Lind (.324, one HR, six RBIs) to the 15-day DL because of a sore back. Second baseman Maicer Izturis was lost likely for the season early last week.
It's two right-handers scheduled in Baltimore's Miguel Gonzalez and Toronto knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. Gonzalez (1-1, 6.28) was a big surprise a season ago with 11 wins and a 3.78 ERA. His numbers this season are inflated because he allowed seven runs in 3.1 innings in his season debut in Detroit. Since then he's been solid, allowing three runs over 11 innings in his next two, both Orioles wins. Gonzalez made five starts last season against Toronto and was 3-1 with a 2.30 ERA in 31.1 innings. He was 1-1 in three starts with a 2.45 ERA at Rogers Centre.
It's a shame for Jays sports bettors that Lind isn't healthy as he's 8-for-16 with a home run in his career off Gonzalez. Encarnacion has two homers off Gonzalez but those are his only two hits in 17 at-bats. Rasmus is just 1-for-12 with six strikeouts. Lawrie is 2-for-16.
Dickey has been rocked in three of his four starts, allowing at least five earned runs in each of those. He was knocked for seven hits and five runs, walking five, last time out against Minnesota. Dickey didn't fare well against the Orioles in 2013, going 0-2 with a 7.71 ERA in three starts over 18.2 innings. He allowed three home runs and O's batters hit .301 off him. Davis is 5-for-18 with two doubles and a home run in his career off Dickey. Jones is 3-for-16 with a homer. Matt Wieters is 2-for-11 with four strikeouts. He sat out Monday simply for a day of rest and should be in there Tuesday.
Toronto took two of three in Baltimore two weeks ago and that one loss was in extra innings. Rasmus was 3-for-12 with two home runs and four RBIs in that series. Bautista had a home run and three RBIs. Davis and Wieters both homered in that series for the Orioles. Hunter blew a save, allowing a ninth-inning homer to Rasmus, in the game Baltimore would win in 12 innings.
MLB free picks: Blue Jays -140 and the over 8.5 runs (-105 at sportsbooks). The Orioles just finished a grueling four-game series Monday while the Jays were home resting after a long road trip. Baltimore is 0-6 in Gonzalez's past six starts against teams with a winning record. The Blue Jays are 5-0 in their past five Tuesday games. The over is 5-1 in Baltimore's past six road games. It is also 5-1 in Toronto's past six as a favorite.