Since June 18, the Orioles and Blue Jays have spent a lot of time together, enough for seven games since that date. This Tuesday through Thursday, the Toronto/Buffalo Blue Jays make their way into Camden Yards for games eight, nine, and 10 on the season. Mind you, it’s not even the All-Star Break yet.
Thus far, the season series between these two teams is 5-2 in the Blue Jays’ favor. The Orioles have seen some great starting pitching from the Blue Birds so far this year. In five of those seven games, Blue Jay starters had lasted at least five innings.
Two of those five-plus-inning starters from the previous series were Alek Manoah and Hyun-Jin Ryu, two arms that will be seen again in this series. For the Orioles, Spenser Watkins will get his first Major League start in game one, and Matt Harvey and Keegan Akin will be on the mound in games two and three, respectively.
After seeing the Blue Jays a few times now, it is a little more clear on the game plan the Orioles should take in this series. These Keys to the Series will breakdown that gameplan for you!
Keys to the Series 🔑
1. Don’t let their starters dominate
All season, the Orioles have had trouble getting to starting pitchers. In the seven games against the Blue Jays so far, that hasn’t changed. In the two games won by the Orioles, and the game two in the first series that should have been won, the O’s did a great job getting at the starter. Putting that pressure on and adding runs early will not only quickly give way to a bullpen that the Orioles can handle, but also take the pressure off the Oriole arms and bats throughout the game.
Look for the top of the lineup to make some noise right out of the gate. Cedric Mullins is quite easily the best leadoff and setup man in baseball, and a hit streak from Austin Hays and Ryan Mountcastle should do good in finishing the production created by the top of the order.
2. Contain Vlad Jr.
Let’s be honest. It’s been said that no one player will win you baseball games regularly. Whoever said that has never watched Vlad Guerrero Jr. play, because this kid certainly has, will, and will continue to put his team on his shoulders. In the last two series, Vlad Jr. smashed four home runs against Oriole pitching. Now granted, Vladdy is hitting home runs off everybody. However, the Orioles have a tendency to let certain players completely annihilate them single-handedly.
Just refer back to Randal Grichuk in 2020 and Gleyber Torres in 2019. To stay away from letting Vladdy become the Oriole killer of 2021, it’s truly best to just avoid him and put the pressure on the rest of the lineup. Being able to pitch around Vlad Jr. in certain situations will be key, while also trying to attack him early and getting ahead of him in situations where there is no damage to be done.
3. Let the bullpen continue to surprise
A lot like last season, the Oriole bullpen has actually been quite a surprise. Besides a few arms, who have completely imploded, the O’s bullpen has arms who have been the M.V.P.s lately. In situations where these games are close and need to be held that way, arms like Tyler Wells, Tanner Scott, Adam Plutko, and Cole Sulser must continue to step up.
With a rookie making his Major League debut, and the other starters being Harvey and Akin, the bullpen will play a big part in this series. Tyler Wells did not allow a walk in the month of June, while leading all rookies in strikeouts. Cole Sulser has continued to pitch well, when used at the right time. Look to these arms to create a lot of swing and misses and groundball outs, which are completely necessary when pitching in Camden Yards.
Here is tonight’s game one starting lineup:
First pitch of this series is set for 7:05 p.m. ET on Tuesday night. You can catch each game on MASN or on the Orioles’ flagship radio station, 105.7 The Fan!
According to MASN’s Roch Kubatko, RHP Travis Lakins Sr. had successful surgery to fix a recurrent olecranon stress fracture in his right elbow. The surgery was performed by Dr. Steve Shin in Los Angeles this morning.
Konner Wade has cleared waivers and has been outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk. And you might want to make the trip to Bowie this Friday, as John Means is scheduled to pitch for the Baysox in his second rehab start!
How do you see this series playing out? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to follow The Baltimore Battery on Facebook and Twitter, and follow our podcast, The Walk-Off, on YouTube and Spotify! And, make sure to use the hashtag #thebaltimorebattery when sharing our content to show your Birdland swag!