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Consistent starting pitching was key to Orioles' success in Toronto. Will it continue in Cincinnati?

First, a disclaimer. The Toronto Blue Jays team the Orioles' just took three of four games from this weekend at the Rogers Centre is not a good one. It's a far cry from the team that beat the Orioles in the AL Wild Card game last season.

Their at-bats are reminiscent of that Bugs Bunny cartoon where he corkscrews himself into the batter's box dirt. Their best player hobbled off the field in the series opener on Thursday. And by the end of the series Sunday, Toronto's biggest strength – its starting rotation – also was leaking oil.

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They'll get better, and as Orioles manager Buck Showalter often says when a team or player is struggling, "Someone's gonna pay." There's really only one way but up for a 2-10 team.

Having said all of that, the performance of the Orioles' starting rotation this series shouldn't go dismissed. They posted quality starts in all four games, combining for a 1.85 ERA in the series.

That included right-hander Alec Asher's performance in his first Orioles start. Asher allowed just one run over 6 1/3 innings on Saturday afternoon.

"We all feed off each other," said right-hander Dylan Bundy, who tossed six shutout innings in Sunday's 11-4 series finale win. "If one guy does good, the next guy wants to do better and so on and so forth. It's a friendly competition. But even if we do go bad, we're trying to learn things and pick each other up."

There definitely is a sense that the Orioles starters are feeding off each other. There's throwing strikes, mixing their pitches well and they kept the Blue Jays guessing. Whether it was Asher's cutter, Wade Miley's curveball or Bundy's emerging slider, they had plenty of weapons to work with.

One key stat: In this series, Orioles starters had a 5.5 strikeout-to-walk ratio, recording 22 strikeouts and just four walks. They're not hurting themselves with walks while still missing bats.

It's no secret that the Orioles' rotation isn't heralded nationally, especially without right-hander Chris Tillman. And again, we are talking about four games in the middle of April, but the starters' strong performance against the Blue Jays suddenly makes this rotation more intriguing moving forward.

"I don't look into that stuff man," Miley said after his start on Friday about the skeptics. "I'm just trying to go out, and I think I can speak for the other guys, we're just trying to go out, day in and day out and try to give the team a chance to win. We know we've got a strong offense and if we can keep us in games, [we'll be fine]."

Now, the starters will face another test in Cincinnati against a Reds team that is tied for the second-most runs scored in the majors (62) and owns a .776 team OPS, the third best mark in baseball.

eencina@baltsun.com
twitter.com/EddieInTheYard

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