Orioles-Blue Jays Preview
By BRETT HUSTON
(AP) -- If it seems like the Baltimore Orioles can only participate in sweeps so far this season, that's a pattern they'll gladly hope holds true Sunday afternoon.
The Orioles would love to see Brian Matusz shed his brief but rocky history against the Toronto Blue Jays as they look for their first sweep at Rogers Centre in nearly seven years.
Baltimore (5-3) swept Minnesota to open the season behind some remarkable starting pitching, but those quality starts were nowhere to be found once the Yankees arrived at Camden Yards.
New York left with a three-game sweep, but the Orioles have bounced back with a display of power thus far in Toronto. Nolan Reimold hit one of three Baltimore homers in Friday's 7-5 win, then hit the club's third blast Saturday in the ninth, a two-run shot that was the difference in a 6-4 victory.
"There's a lot of good karma around our club," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "There has been since spring training started."
Rogers Centre had been a north-of-the-border house of horrors for the Orioles prior to this weekend, as they'd lost 29 of their past 34 in Toronto. Now, they're in position to go for their first sweep in Canada since April 22-24, 2005 - a series that featured two Sammy Sosa homers in the finale.
"Every question seems to be prefaced with how we've struggled here before," Reimold said. "It's good to come in here and have some close ballgames where we do the little things that you've got to do to get the win."
It's only been 10 months since Matusz earned a win, though it must feel like a lot longer to the left-hander. After posting the worst ERA ever for a pitcher who made at least 10 starts (10.69) in 2011, Matusz gave up four runs, four walks and six hits over four innings of Monday's 6-2 loss to the Yankees.
Still, Showalter wasn't discouraged.
"I feel a lot better about that outing than I would last year," Showalter said. "I think you'll see better things from him."
Matusz has been even worse versus Toronto, albeit with a relatively small sample size. He's failed to make it out of the third inning in three career starts against the Blue Jays, allowing 11 runs and four homers in 5 1-3 innings.
Matusz had to be removed from a September 2010 outing versus the Jays after a Yunel Escobar liner hit him on the arm. Escobar also hit a grand slam off Matusz earlier that season.
Toronto (4-4) counters with another young starter who was once considered a can't-miss prospect but is coming off a rough season in the majors. Kyle Drabek showed signs he may be putting 2011 behind him Tuesday, holding a potent Boston lineup to one run and three hits over 5 1-3 innings in a 7-3 victory.
"(Tuesday) was another step and sign of his maturity as a pitcher," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said of Drabek, who earned his first win since June 7 - one day after Matusz's most recent victory.
The right-hander is 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA in two appearances - one start - against Baltimore.
At least one significant threat should be out of the lineup against Drabek. Showalter indicated after Saturday's win that he'd likely give catcher Matt Wieters - who has two homers and a .394 on-base percentage - his first day off Sunday.
Updated April 14, 2012