By Eduardo A. Encina
The Baltimore Sun
7:00 AM EDT, April 13, 2012
After getting swept by the New York Yankees this week to end Baltimore’s season-opening, six-game homestand, the Orioles need to get away, right?
The Orioles will open their first road trip of the season – a three-city, 10-game swing – in the House of Horrors that’s otherwise known as the Rogers Centre.
Maybe the ghost of Cito Gaston still haunts the O’s. Maybe it's years of lingering hangover from the end of the 1989 “Why Not?” season.
Whatever it is, the Orioles have been horrible north of the border. Over the past three seasons, they’re 4-23 at the Rogers Centre. The Orioles haven’t had a winning record in Toronto since 2005. During that span, the Orioles lost 16 straight in Toronto from Aug. 8, 2009 to June 15, 2011.
And here's a telling stat: Over the course of their 14-straight losing seasons, the Orioles have won a season series in Toronto just twice (2004, '05).
The only good news for the Orioles might be that the Blue Jays' new retro-look uniforms evoke more memories of George Bell than Jose Bautista.
The Orioles (3-3) haven’t played well against the Jays in general, losing their past seven series against Toronto dating back to Sept. 2010.
So let’s face it, no matter how “competitive” the Orioles were against the Yankees, if we’re truly going to talk about this franchise improving, it has to begin in Canada. How can you even discuss the merit in playing well against New York and Boston when you can’t beat the Jays, who have improved considerably since last season?
We’ve heard a lot of talk about incremental improvement of these Orioles, and after two close losses to the Yankees in games that were decided in the late innings, the gap between Baltimore and New York may not be a big one, but it's there. And on a larger scale, it’s enough to be the difference between a first-place team and a last-place one.
First, the Orioles should concentrate on handling the Jays here in Toronto. Last year, three of the Orioles’ six losses in Toronto were by one run. Baltimore had seventh-inning leads in each of those games. The other game, the Orioles’ first in Toronto last season on June 14, went to 11 innings before Koji Uehara allowed a walk-off homer to Adam Lind. Another game included a Kevin Gregg ninth-inning blown save.
Sound familiar? Sounds a little like this week.
Needless to say, this is a huge series for the Orioles. It might actually carry more importance than the Yankees series that just ended.
Orioles feeling blue in Toronto
The Orioles have struggled over the past six seasons at the Rogers Centre. Here’s a year-by-year look, dating back to 2006, at how Baltimore has played north of the border
Year Season record Record at Rogers Centre
2006 8-11 3-7
2007 8-10 3-6
2008 6-12 3-6
2009 9-9 1-8
2010 3-15 0-9
2011 6-12 3-6
O's on the road against the AL East in 2011
Red Sox 3-6
Blue Jays 3-6
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