As the Orioles play a pivotal road series in Toronto, their playoff hopes will hinge on two starters who have struggled at Rogers Centre.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter announced the next two starters in his rotation for this series: right-hander Chris Tillman will start Wednesday and right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez will go in the series finale Thursday.
Both Tillman and Jimenez will start on one extra day of rest, a luxury affored by the Orioles having six available starters.
"We're fortunate to have a lot of guys pitching fairly well right now and I think it's important to give guys some extra time if you can," Showalter said. "There's a lot of wear and tear of the season and you can make a case for and against everyone if you want to, but there's really only a couple names. They're all going to have to pitch. I don't want them to get too far away from the field, either. Sometimes there's a fine line between getting too much rest, this time of the year, guys don't really lose too much. They stay pretty in tune, nothing that a work day won't get them back."
Tillman will be making his first start since his shortest outing of the year, a 1 2/3-inning start Thursday against the Boston Red Sox that completed a four-game home sweep of the Orioles and raised questions about whether Tillman had fully recovered from shoulder bursitis that placed him on the disabled list.
Both Tillman and Showalter have repeatedly said that Tillman is as healthy as he can be for the final week of the season
"Tilly is one of those guys," Showalter said. "I would never sell him short. Usually, those type of things, I've seen him get right back on the horse real quick. Physically, going into the game, he's fine, other than the wear and tear of a season, like anybody."
Tillman is 2-6 with a 7.51 ERA in 12 career starts at Rogers Centre. He fell one out shy of a quality start in his last appearance in Toronto, holding the Blue Jays to two runs on five hits over 5 2/3 innings on July 31.
As for Jimenez, his last start at Rogers Centre was his shortest of the season. He lasted just a third of an inning, allowing five runs on six hits in a 10-9 loss on June 12. That led to the first of two times he was sent to the bullpen.
However, over his last six starts – since recapturing a rotation spot when Tillman went on the disabled list – Jimenez is pitching to a 2.85 ERA and is holding opposing hitters to a .186 batting average.
"You look at his last six starts and they're about as good as you want to see," Showalter said. "… I think Ubaldo has earned that and he's certainly been one of our best pitchers his last six or seven starts.
Left-hander Wade Miley, who was away from the team for the birth of his baby boy on Tuesday, is scheduled to rejoin the club in New York, where he could start Friday or Saturday against the Yankees.
Right-hander Yovani Gallardo would also be in to pitch in New York, and right-hander Kevin Gausman could slot into the regular season finale at Yankee Stadium, where he owns a 1.32 ERA in two starts. Gausman is also 2-1 with a 0.80 ERA in five starts against the Yankees overall.
Jones: 'We're playing with house money': Before Tuesday's series opener in Toronto, Orioles center fielder Adam Jones was energized about arriving at Rogers Centre with the opportunity to tie the Blue Jays for the top AL wild-card spot with a win. The Orioles entered the night trailing Toronto by one game.
"A win for the Orioles opens the door for the Orioles," Jones said. "We win and we control our own destiny. You worry about others and you will not be in that destiny. We just need to handle what we can handle, control what we can control. I know it's cliché and I'm not a real cliché kind of guy, but that's just the truth with six games to go.
"We're playing with house money. We weren't supposed to be here. I think that's been well documented by PECOTA and all their predictions and all the experts who didn't know they were one of the 19,000, but they're experts. We're playing with house money. I think that's how we all look at it. Now let's go do something with it."
Around the horn: Closer Zach Britton's save on Sunday marked his 14th in which he entered the game with a one-run lead. According to Elias Sports Bureau, he is the only pitcher in the majors to save more than three games with a one-run lead without recording a blown save. … The Orioles entered Tuesday with a 7-9 mark against the Blue Jays this season.