Orioles turn attention to key four-game series vs. AL East-leading Blue Jays

After their 6-0 win over the Boston Red Sox in the series finale last night, the Orioles trail the Toronto Blue Jays by 4 1/2 games in the American League East as the two teams begin a crucial four-game series tonight at Camden Yards.

The two clubs have split the season series so far at three games apiece, with each team taking two of three on the road. The Orioles picked up their lone home win so far this season in dramatic fashion April 12, when David Lough lined a walk-off single in the 12th inning.

It came after Tommy Hunter blew his first save of the season by allowing a solo home run to the Blue Jays' Colby Rasmus in the top of the ninth.

But that victory, and both of those series, came before the Blue Jays went 21-9 in May to seize control of the division. They’ve started June on a similar note, winning six of their first 10 games this month, but they arrive at Camden Yards having lost four of five.

The Blue Jays have scored 321 runs this year, third-most in baseball, and they are the only team in the division with a positive run differential. That’s in no small part due to Edwin Encarnacion, who has 20 home runs and 53 RBIs, but left fielder Melky Cabrera is quietly delivering an above-.300 season and has 10 home runs.

Left-hander Mark Buehrle, who is in the midst of an All-Star-caliber season, is scheduled to start today. He’s 10-2 with a 2.04 ERA and has allowed just one total run in his last two starts. Right-hander Drew Hutchison, Friday’s likely pitcher, has a 2.03 ERA on the road this year.

But Blue Jays starters aren’t completely unhittable. R.A. Dickey’s 4.20 ERA has been salvaged by the bullpen, which in consecutive games stranded bases-loaded jams that the right-hander created. Left-hander J.A. Happ couldn’t get through the fourth inning in his last appearance, and he has a subpar 1.606 WHIP.

The Blue Jays have a 3.99 ERA as a team, which ranks in the middle of the majors.

The Blue Jays have put themselves in position to finish atop the AL East for the first time since 1993. But the Orioles aren’t too far behind, and they could make statement with a series win.

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