After a welcome day off on Thursday, the Baltimore Orioles return to Oriole Park at Camden Yards for a six-game home stand featuring three games against the current division-leading Toronto Blue Jays and three games against the Tampa Bay Rays. In the first matchup, the Orioles will send out Chris Tillman who is quickly becoming the ace of the Baltimore pitching staff. While the rest of the rotation has been mediocre thus far into the young season, Tillman has been the most reliable hurler for the birds with a 1.35 earned-run average.
The Blue Jays will try to match Tillman with Dustin McGowan who is 0-3 against the Orioles with a 6.51 earned-run average in six starts. Thus far into the 2014 campaign, McGowan is 0-1 with a 13.50 ERA. The Orioles have schedule Ubaldo Jiminez to pitch the second game and Bud Norris to finish up the series. Jiminez has been shaky this year, but does not have the pressure of being pulled from the rotation at this point due to the Orioles investment in him. Jiminez has given up 8 earned runs and 13 hits in just over 10 innings of work while walking 8 and striking out 10. Norris' numbers are even less impressive having given up 5 runs and 9 hits in 5 innings for an ERA of 9.00.
As the series commences on Friday night, the American League East is in a virtual dead heat with all five teams within one game of each other. This fact might be an early indication that this year's division champion may not be determined until the final week of the season. The Orioles are hoping to capitalize on their recent 2-of-3 series win at New York and bring their record to the .500 mark. With their bats coming to life in the series against the Yankees, the concerned chatter about the birds seems to have diminished significantly. Taking 2 of 3 against the Blue Jays would push the Orioles one game above .500 and set the stage for the next series against Tampa Bay. Looking down the road, the schedule will remain challenging for Baltimore as they head to Boston for a four-game stretch against the world champion Boston Red Sox.
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