Blue Jays-Orioles Preview
Although they have much loftier goals, matching last season's win total with more than a month left in the season would be another accomplishment for the Baltimore Orioles in a year filled with them.
Perfect at home this season against the Toronto Blue Jays, the Orioles will try to keep that intact Saturday night with their 69th win.
While just ending a run of 14 straight losing seasons would be a huge achievement for an Orioles team that has lost at least 90 games each of the last six years, the potential is there for much more. Baltimore (68-57), chasing its first playoff berth since 1997, enters the final week of August tied for the second AL wild card and five games behind the East-leading Yankees.
The Orioles moved within one win of last year's total with a 6-4 victory in Friday's series opener, as Chris Davis had the first three-homer game of his career to support Zach Britton's strong start.
"I was definitely thinking about the home run," said Davis, who struck out in his final at-bat. "He (Brad Lincoln) gave me a good pitch to hit on the first pitch and I fouled it off. He was tough after that, but the biggest thing is we get the win and I enjoyed a pretty good night."
Markakis had Baltimore's last three-homer performance on Aug. 22, 2006.
Davis, who has five home runs and eight RBIs in his last five games, is 14 for 35 (.400) with seven homers and 11 RBIs against the Blue Jays in 2012.
Jeff Mathis' two-run homer in the ninth gave Toronto (56-69) more than three runs for the first time in eight games, but it still matched a season high with its sixth consecutive loss.
Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts in his first game after missing over a month with a sprained left wrist.
"He swung the bat consistent with what we've seen in the past in terms of aggressiveness, bat speed, all that," manager John Farrell said. "But we certainly temper our expectations after the amount of time he's missed, the number of games he's missed. So the fact that he's back with us is the most important thing right now."
Brandon Morrow (7-4, 3.01 ERA) will try to help the Jays avoid their first seven-game skid since a nine-game slide May 19-27, 2009. This will be the right-hander's first start since June 11 after a lengthy stint on the disabled list with a torn left oblique.
Expected to be limited to around 85 pitches, Morrow went 1-0 with a 2.51 ERA in three rehab starts for Double-A New Hampshire.
He was excellent in his final two major league starts before the injury, allowing one run and six hits over 15 1-3 innings with four walks and 13 strikeouts.
Morrow is 3-2 with a 4.89 ERA in seven starts against the Orioles but held them to one run and four hits in 6 1-3 innings of a 4-1 victory May 30.
Baltimore will give Steve Johnson (1-0, 3.27) his second big league start after he was very effective in his first. The right-hander limited Seattle to two runs and five hits with nine strikeouts over six innings in a 9-2 win Aug. 8.
Johnson made his most recent appearance at Texas on Wednesday, giving up one run in one inning.