With all due respect to the Kansas City Royals, there is nothing quite like a series against the, well, Kansas City Royals, to get a team back to its winning ways. After winning two out of three games in the Bronx to improve to a season-best 16 games over .500, the Orioles suddenly tailspinned, losing three of their next four series, to the Rangers, Guardians, and Brewers.
But a little Camden Yards home cooking and a reeling Kansas City Royals team was just what the doctor ordered. The Orioles, now winners of four straight games, welcome the Toronto Blue Jays to Camden Yards for a key three-game series starting Tuesday night.
Baltimore Orioles series preview vs the Toronto Blue Jays
In one of their best series of the season, the Orioles swept all three games from the Blue Jays up at Rogers Centre from May 19-21. But do not be fooled; the Orioles rallied to win the final two games of that series in extra innings, and the Blue Jays have returned to their winning ways since that hiccup against the Orioles. Heading into this past weekend's series against Minnesota, the Jays had won 7 of 8 games, including a sweep of the Mets at Citi Field and an impressive 4-game series win over the World Champion Astros. While the Blue Jays struggled this past weekend in a home series against the Twins, they rallied to avoid a sweep on Sunday and come into Baltimore not only feeling good about themselves but also chomping at the bit to avenge the Orioles' sweep in May.
The Blue Jays fly into Baltimore led by offensive stars Bo Bichette, Matt Chapman, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Those three are flanked by the always dangerous George Springer, Whit Merrifield, and Daulton Varsho. Needless to say, the Orioles will need to pitch well to win this series.
Tuesday, 6/13, 7:05 P.M. : Chris Bassitt vs Dean Kremer
The series opener pits a pair of tall right-handers against one another, with the 6'5" Chris Bassitt squaring off against the 6'3" Dean Kremer. While the Orioles are fortunate to miss Blue Jays' ace and AL strikeout king Kevin Gausman, Bassitt has been extremely tough this season, going 7-4 with a 3.29 ERA in 13 starts. The lanky right-hander has allowed only two runs over his last 15.2 innings pitched, and the Orioles will have their hands full against him on Tuesday night.
Dean Kremer, on the other hand, is coming off one of his worst starts in a while, having allowed 6 runs on 9 hits in a 10-2 loss in Milwaukee last Wednesday night. Kremer, who is 6-3 with a 4.89 ERA overall, will need to keep up with Bassitt for the Orioles to have a chance in Game 1. Kremer has handled Bo Bichette (3-17), Matt Chapman (1-12) and George Springer (3-16) well in his career, but Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (6-19) Alejandro Kirk (4-11), and Santiago Espinal (5-7) have hit him well.
Unfortunately, this matchup appears to favor the Blue Jays.
Wednesday, 6/13, 7:05 P.M.: Jose Berrios vs. Kyle Bradish
In an act seemingly out of the movie Freaky Friday, Berrios and the Jays' presumptive ace coming into the season, Alek Manoah, have switched places: Manoah was outstanding in 2022, but pitched so terribly in 2023 that the Blue Jays optioned him after the Houston Astros knocked him out in the first inning of his start last week. Berrios, meanwhile, struggled mightily in 2022 but has righted the ship to start this season, rebounding from an ugly 2022 that saw him post a 5.23 ERA to post a solid 3.61 ERA through 13 starts in 2023.
Kyle Bradish takes the ball for the Orioles, coming off an uneven performance against the Brewers that saw him allow 3 runs in the first inning but struck out ten and shut the Brew Crew down in innings 2-5. For the whole season, Bradish is 2-2 with a 4.25 ERA over 11 starts, having missed time earlier in the year due to an injury suffered in his first start in Texas. The Jays have hit Bradish well in the past, with Springer (6-11) Guerrero (5-13) and Bichette (4-12) the main culprits.
Both Berrios and Bradish can be dominant if their stuff is working, and this game is difficult to predict. However, I will give the Orioles the edge at home with the hope that Berrios reverts to his 2022 self, at least for this 2023 matchup.
Thursday, 6/8, 1:05 P.M.: Yusei Kikuchi vs. Tyler Wells
A game 3 matinee pits lefthander Yusei Kikuchi against arguably the Orioles' best starter this season, Tyler Wells. Kikuchi is 6-2 with a 4.34 ERA over 13 starts this season. The Orioles tagged him for three runs and 4 walks over 4.2 innings on May 19 in Toronto and will look for more of the same on Thursday. Just a reminder: Ryan Mountcastle owns Yusei Kikuchi. He is 5-10 against Kikuchi in his career with four home runs and a 2.415 OPS. While Mountcastle has been struggling and dealing with an illness lately, hopefully the matchup with Kikuchi will have him feeling better.
Wells is coming off another terrific start for the Orioles, allowing only two runs over 6.2 innings in a win over Kansas City Friday night. For the season, Wells is 5-2 with a 3.24 ERA and sparkling 0.85 WHIP. Wells has pitched well against Toronto, having only allowed one home run (George Springer) against the current Jays lineup and, albeit over a small sample size, has held Bichette to 2-9 and Guerrero to 2-8 during his career. This matchup appears to favor the Orioles.
While another sweep of the Blue Jays would be grand, the Orioles would happily take 2 out of 3 against their always-tough American League East rival. Toronto is currently five games behind the Orioles for second place in the American League East but has a chance to make up significant ground this week.