MLB: Jays, O’s look to cure pitching troubles in first meeting of season

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The Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays haven’t had much in common over the past couple of weeks, but sorting out their respective bullpens is something they both find themselves focusing on.

The fallout from that could be a big factor when host Baltimore and Toronto collide for the first time this season on Monday to open a three-game series.

The Orioles are winners of seven of their past nine games despite Sunday’s 9-2 home loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Monday’s game will be the fourth outing in a nine-game homestand for Baltimore.

“We didn’t play our best baseball (Sunday),” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “Just all around. It was kind of sloppy for us defensively and kind of one of those games for us.”

Toronto has lost four of its past six games after falling 5-1 to the visiting Minnesota Twins on Sunday. There have been pitching snags for the Blue Jays, who have allowed five or more runs four times during the six-game rut.

Right-hander Corbin Burnes (3-2, 2.83 ERA) goes to the mound for the Orioles on Monday, and he will attempt to snap a personal two-game skid. He has gone three straight starts without a victory, working at least six innings in all three of those games.

Still, Burnes hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any outing this season. He has faced the Blue Jays only once in his career, winning a 2022 matchup in which he gave up three runs on five hits in 7 2/3 innings.

Despite its recent struggles, the Orioles’ bullpen might be in good shape going into the Toronto series after Albert Suarez turned in three shutout innings on Sunday.

“That was the highlight of the game for me,” Hyde said. “We’ve had to use quite a few guys, two extra-inning games as of late. For Albert to do what he did there, that was a huge pickup.”

That’s a welcome situation for the Orioles as they try to find the right fit for struggling closer Craig Kimbrel, who was used in two different situations in the Arizona series.

Toronto’s starting pitcher in the series opener will be right-hander Jose Berrios (4-3, 2.85), who has lost three straight starts. His roughest outing of the season came last Tuesday, when he surrendered eight runs on seven hits in 3 2/3 innings at Philadelphia.

Berrios began the season with a strong stretch, with the Blue Jays winning in each of his first five starts. This will be his sixth road assignment out of nine total outings.

Berrios is 10-1 with a 2.98 ERA in 14 career starts against the Orioles.

Both teams have recently seen flaws from the bullpen. For the Blue Jays, set-up man Erik Swanson has struggled.

“He’s got to get ahead of hitters, first and foremost,” Toronto manager John Schneider said of Swanson, who has a 14.04 ERA in 11 relief appearances this year.

Struggling Blue Jays outfielder George Springer has played in only one full game since Wednesday, in part because of an illness. He went 0-for-4 on Sunday, dropping his batting average to .200 and leading to further conversation about his status as the team’s leadoff hitter.

Baltimore struggled to the tune of just four hits on Sunday, but Jordan Westburg extended his hitting streak to six games.

–Field Level Media

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