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Orioles hitters look to continue success over R.A. Dickey

BaseballMajor League BaseballBaltimore OriolesR.A. DickeyToronto Blue JaysMiguel Gonzalez

The Toronto Blue Jays traded for R.A. Dickey before the 2013 season for the knuckleballer to anchor their rebuilt rotation, but he hasn't had much success against the Orioles. 

The Orioles teed off on the 39-year-old right-hander in three starts last year, hitting five home runs and scoring 16 runs in 18 2/3 innings. They won two of three matchups against Dickey last year, though they haven’t faced him since June 21.

If the Orioles are going to return home from their current seven-game road trip with a winning record -- they’re currently 2-2 -- getting another win off Dickey would be a good start.

First baseman Chris Davis and shortstop J.J. Hardy each have five career hits against Dickey, including a home run apiece, while outfielder Delmon Young, has three hits in nine at-bats against the former New York Mets starter. Young, outfielder Adam Jones and infielder Ryan Flaherty have also taken Dickey deep.

With the Mets, Dickey struck out 13 in a complete-game shutout against the Orioles in 2012. Whether he’s able to return to that Cy Young-winning form will impact the Orioles in the short term, but it has a much greater impact on the Blue Jays’ success this year.

INSIDE THE MATCHUPS

Tuesday, April 22: Miguel Gonzalez (1-1, 6.28 ERA) vs. R.A. Dickey (1-3, 6.26) There’s not much more to say on Dickey, though it’s important to note that, while Dickey is the putative ace of the staff, Mark Buerhle has allowed just two earned runs in 28 innings so far this season. Buerhle will miss the Orioles, with his next start scheduled for Friday against the Boston Red Sox. Miguel Gonzalez has had success against Toronto in the past, with a 2.30 ERA in five starts against the Blue Jays last season. Current Toronto hitters are hitting .130/.181/.273 against Gonzalez, which if sustained Tuesday night, could mean a long outing for Gonzalez and a restful night for the depleted Orioles bullpen.

Wednesday, April 23: Chris Tillman (2-1, 1.71) vs. Dustin McGowan (1-1, 4.85) Neither allowed an earned run when these two faced off April 11, though Tillman took the loss because of a pair of unearned runs. Only Jones, who has four hits in eight at-bats against McGowan, has success against the right-hander among current Orioles. Yet in 14 career appearances against the Orioles, McGowan has posted an ERA of nearly 6.00. The opposite is true for Tillman against the Blue Jays as he has a 3.42 career ERA against the Blue Jays in 11 starts. Yet Blue Jays outfielders Colby Rasmus and Jose Bautista are hitting .353 and .300, respectively, off Tillman, with a pair of home runs apiece. As a team, the Blue Jays are hitting .266/.303/.492 off Tillman.

Thursday, April 24: Bud Norris (0-2, 4.42) vs. Drew Hutchison (1-1, 3.60) Norris and Hutchison matched zeros in the Orioles' 2-1, 12-inning win over Toronto on April 23. For Hutchison, that dominance was very much in character -- he has allowed just two earned runs in three career starts against the Orioles. Just one current Orioles player, outfielder Nick Markakis, has an extra-base hit off the 23-year-old right-hander. Toronto batters, many of which came from the National League, have plenty of experience against Norris, the former Astros right-hander. Shortstop Jose Reyes is 6-for-16 in his career against Norris, while Rasmus and catcher Josh Thole have each homered off the right-hander.

IN THE BULLPENS

Switch-hitters Reyes and outfielder Melky Cabrera hit almost equally well from each side of the plate, so a right-handed reliever could be asked to get four big outs with those two, first baseman Edwin Encarnacion, and Bautista clustered in the lineup. Bautista has three home runs in 12 career at-bats against Darren O’Day, while fellow right-hander Evan Meek has not allowed a hit to any of the four in a small sample. With the bullpen taxed, Meek could see high-leverage innings this season. If you’re hoping for a late Orioles rally, it could happen against Toronto’s Esmil Rogers. Current Orioles are batting a career .306 against the right-hander, with Flaherty, Davis, outfielders Nelson Cruz and Steve Pearce, and catcher Matt Wieters each having homered off Rogers in their career.

THE NINTH INNING

Sergio Santos is filling in for the injured Casey Janssen for at least the rest of the month. He has closed out five games this year, but he is allowing over two base runners per inning and has a 7.11 ERA. Delmon Young has three hits in nine at-bats against Santos, but no other Orioles player has had much success. For the Orioles, Tommy Hunter has struggled against Toronto’s big names since the beginning of 2013. Encarnacion and Rasmus and each have three hits in five plate appearances against Hunter in those two seasons, while Bautista and Reyes have a pair of hits apiece against Hunter out of the bullpen. That could spell trouble if the top of the Blue Jays order is up with the game on the line.

jmeoli@baltsun.com

twitter.com/jonmeoli

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BaseballMajor League BaseballBaltimore OriolesR.A. DickeyToronto Blue JaysMiguel Gonzalez
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