By Eduardo A. Encina
The Baltimore Sun
7:48 AM EDT, June 24, 2013
What happens in Toronto stays in Toronto.
After being swept by the Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre this weekend, the Orioles quickly wanted to turn the page on their trip here.
Just forget about it and move on.
"The game is over with -- we can't go back in time,” center fielder Adam Jones said after the Orioles’ 13-5 loss on Sunday. “It's over with. We have the Indians [on Monday]. We can't dwell on this because the Indians are coming to town, and they are another great major league team. Tip your cap to the Blue Jays, they played a hell of a series. You have to give respect where respect is due. We'll see them later."
They’ll actually see them in three weeks, when the Blue Jays come to Camden Yards on July 12-14, the final series before the All-Star break.
The good news is that by then the Jays can’t possibly be as hot as they are right now, right?
The Indians (38-36) open a four-game series with the Orioles at Camden Yards today.
As for the AL East, it is as tight as ever. The Jays’ 11-game winning streak has put them back in the division picture and all five teams in the AL East are separated by five games – and just four in the loss column.
That will make every division series even more pivotal. And that starts this weekend with the three-game series with the Yankees at Camden Yards. Both Saturday and Sunday’s games will be on national TV, with Sunday’s game being broadcast on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball.
"This is what you want,” Jones said. “You want competition. Next few years, I don't think the division winner is going to be 98 games anymore. I think it's going to be more 90-94 because of the competitive level each team in this division has and how good each team is. You know me, I'm going to love the competition.”
For the Orioles to remain competitive, one would have to think their pitching has to improve. Their team ERA is 4.55, which is the second-worst mark in baseball behind Houston. The starters’ team ERA of 4.88 is 28thout of 30 major league teams.
They’ve allowed 107 homers this season, by far the most in the majors. The Astros, who have allowed the second most, have only yielded 96.
Keep in mind, last year, the starters’ ERA was 4.42. Not outstanding by any means. It was in the bottom third of baseball, but it seemed to be good enough to get the Orioles within one game of winning the AL Division Series.
The Orioles hope left-hander Wei-Yin Chen returns from a left oblique injury soon. That could happen as soon as next week after he’s scheduled to make a minor league rehab start Saturday. Left-hander Zach Britton could also stabilize the rotation if he can duplicate and build on his start Tuesday in Detroit.
That would give the Orioles four legitimate starting options with Miguel Gonzalez and Chris Tillman, who have both been solid. Opening Day starter Jason Hammel has had his ups and downs, but has generally been dependable.
But what about the rest? Jake Arrieta, Tsuyoshi Wada, Jair Jurrjens, Steve Johnson. If two of the four can contribute at the major league level, the Orioles will be good. Will T.J. McFarland eventually get his chance at the bullpen?
So as ugly as the numbers look, the situation isn’t so dire. But the Orioles, like last season, will have to depend on a lot of different pitchers contributing to fill out the holes.
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