(Sports Network) - Lefty Joe Saunders makes his second start with his playoff-
chasing new team Monday when the Baltimore Orioles visit Rogers Centre to open
a three-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Orioles have been one of baseball's most surprising teams in 2012, getting
to 15 games over .500 and winning two of three over the weekend to climb
within two games of the New York Yankees in the American League's East
Baltimore is holding the second of the AL's two wild card berths with a 1 1/2-
game lead on the Tampa Bay Rays in an effort to end a playoff drought that
stretches back to 1997.
The Orioles, who lost 93 games last season, have also not finished at .500
Saunders, a first-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in
2002, had spent the last two-plus seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks before
he was dealt for reliever Matt Lindstrom on Aug. 26.
A 12-game winner with Arizona last season, Saunders was 6-10 in 21 starts
before the trade.
He was hit hard in his Orioles debut on Aug. 29, allowing 10 hits and seven
runs in 5 1/3 innings of an 8-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox.
In seven career meetings with the Blue Jays, he's 2-4 with a 3.83 earned run
average in 47 innings.
For Toronto, lefty J.A. Happ makes his 10th appearance since another trade
sent him from the National League to the American.
The 29-year-old Illinois native was 7-9 with the Houston Astros across 18
starts before heading to Toronto as part of a 10-player deal on July 20.
He pitched in relief four times with the Blue Jays and has since made five
straight starts, winning three of four decisions and allowing a single run in
two of the outings.
He was an 8-5 winner over the Yankees in New York on Aug. 29 after
surrendering four runs on four hits in five innings with five strikeouts.
Happ's lone career meeting with Baltimore came on June 20, 2009 while he was
with Philadelphia. He allowed 10 hits and two runs in six innings while
getting a no-decision in the Phillies' 6-5 loss.
On Sunday in Toronto, Ben Francisco hit his first home run as a Ray and drove
in two as Tampa Bay took a 9-4 win over the Blue Jays to split a four-game
Edwin Encarnacion hit a two-run home run and drove in three for the Blue Jays,
who had won three straight prior to dropping the last two.
Ricky Romero (8-13) dropped his 12th straight decision as he got tagged for
seven runs on eight hits in just one-plus inning of work.
In New York, Mark Reynolds homered twice for the second time in the series,
including a go-ahead three-run shot in a four-run sixth inning, and the
Orioles downed the New York Yankees, 8-3, in the rubber match of a three-game
Chris Tillman came in a winner in six of his past eight starts, but left the
game after three innings due to right elbow stiffness. He allowed two runs on
two hits and two walks.
Randy Wolf (1-0) replaced Tillman and got the win in his Orioles debut. He
spun 3 1/3 innings of one-run ball, scattering three hits while walking one
for Baltimore, which has won 19 of its last 27 games.
The Orioles won all three road series against the Yankees for the first time
"Hopefully it's a sign we're becoming a little better because they've been the
measuring stick for a long time," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.
The Orioles won seven of the first 11 games with the Blue Jays in 2012,
including a sweep of a two-game set in Baltimore on Aug. 24-25. Toronto won
the 2011 season series, 12 games to six.
The Sports Network