Youth will serve both sides as Toronto's Drew Hutchison and Baltimore's Brian Matusz share the bump, with the O's seeking a three-game sweep. It will be Hutchison's second Major League start, while Matusz seeks his first victory of the season during an April that has only prolonged questions about his viability in the rotation.
Hutchison, the Blue Jays' No. 7 prospect according to MLB.com, comes off an outing in which he allowed five earned runs over 5 1/3 innings with four strikeouts and three walks in a win against the Royals on Saturday. Despite the shaky outing, Blue Jays manager John Farrell was pleased with what he saw in the right-hander and has been generally happy with his rotation this season.
"Yes, we can compete. Our challenges are to keep things in their proper perspective," said Farrell. "We feel the urgency to win and compete, and that's no greater than the group that's in the clubhouse. If we didn't feel they had the talent and the ability, we might not have that same optimistic view, but they all possess the ability to compete and contend in this division. They're going to experience some [first-time jitters], there's no doubt."
Matusz, meanwhile, is searching to build momentum. The left-hander is off to an 0-3 start with 7.98 ERA, but more importantly, he has yet to make it out of the sixth inning. He has surrendered 22 hits in 14 2/3 innings and dished out 11 walks. Though the early going has been rough, Matusz is keeping a positive outlook.
"I definitely made some improvements in this start over the last," Matusz said after his previous outing. "[I] threw some nice changeups and some nice sliders down in the zone and felt like I had pretty good command of the fastball. I am just not putting it all together right now."
"I think he's real close to it," O's manager Buck Showalter added. "But if he continues to [pitch], we throw the baseball behind him a little better, he should be in better shape. He had a couple pitches up in the first inning [in his previous start], like a lot of good pitchers do, but he got the ball down. Made some adjustments and got the ball down."
Blue Jays: Perez holding down the fort
Reliever Luis Perez not only leads the club in innings out of the bullpen, but the left-hander has yet to allow a run this season. Perez has tossed 11 1/3 scoreless innings, while surrendering just four hits with 12 strikeouts and four walks. Perez has worked more than one inning in each of his last three appearances, with eight punchouts and one walk.
Orioles: Waiting on Reynolds
Mark Reynolds remains in the lineup, but has remained quiet. Reynolds, hardly known as a contact hitter, is hitting .157 (8-for-51) with no home runs and just three RBIs. Reynolds snapped out of a hitless funk with a 2-for-3 night on Wednesday after going hitless in five games from April 18-22. Reynolds also got off to a slow start in 2011, hitting just .169 in April.
O's pitchers have given up just one home run in the last 46 innings.
The Blue Jays are hitting a Major League-leading .355 (45-for-134) with runners in scoring position.