If the Blue Jays are going to get their season moving back in the right direction before the All-Star break, they'll have to do so in a place that has given them a great deal of trouble lately.
Toronto will play the second of its three-game series against the Orioles on Saturday afternoon at Camden Yards, where it has lost 10 of its last 13. That includes an 8-5 defeat on Friday that dropped the Blue Jays to 6-12 since an 11-game winning streak thrust them back into relevance. It also guaranteed that Toronto will head into the break under .500.
The Orioles, on the other hand, are 28-19 at home. They have won three straight and sit within a game of the Rays for second place in the American League East.
Baltimore's powerful offense pounded Toronto starter Mark Buehrle for eight runs in the series opener, and now will try its luck against a pitcher making his third Major League start.
Todd Redmond, a 28-year-old right-hander with nine Minor League seasons under his belt, started one game for the Reds last season. He had pitched out of the bullpen three times for the Blue Jays this year before starting on Sunday against the Twins.
Redmond took a no-hitter into the fifth inning, and he finished with one hit allowed and two unearned runs in five innings. He walked three and struck out four for his first big league victory.
"He knows the situation, he's here filling in, an opportunity to start. But shoot, he couldn't have done a better job," Toronto skipper John Gibbons said. "He did a great job, he really did."
The Orioles will counter with righty Jason Hammel (7-5, 5.03 ERA), who is trying to snap a seven-start winless streak. He's recorded only two quality starts in that span. Hammel took a no-decision on Sunday at Yankee Stadium, giving up one run on six hits in five innings.
Hammel will be facing an offense that has hit more home runs than any Major League team besides his own. The Blue Jays didn't leave the yard during their previous series against the Indians, but got roundtrippers from J.P. Arencibia and Edwin Encarnacion on Friday to push their season total to 114. That's a good sign for Gibbons.
"Well, you've got to have balance," he said. "But if you look at our team, especially the guys in the middle, that's kind of who we are. We like that, instant runs and things like that. But if you had a great year and hit 40 home runs, how many at-bats did you get, 500? That's a lot of at-bats that you're not hitting home runs. That's who we are, that's how we strike quick, when we're successful, that's usually what we're doing."
Blue Jays: Bullpen staying strong
Toronto's relievers don't seem to mind pitching away from Rogers Centre. Since May 11, the bullpen has made 27 consecutive road appearances without allowing more than two earned runs.
Over that span, the bullpen has posted an ERA of 1.65. For the season, they rank first in the Majors in road ERA.
• Jose Bautista suffered his second four-strikeout game of the season on Friday. The other came on April 12 against the Royals. Before this season, Bautista had not struck out four times in a game since 2009.
Over his past six games, Bautista is 2-for-24 with one RBI.
Orioles: Asencio makes debut
Baltimore selected the contract of right-hander Jairo Asencio from Triple-A Norfolk on Friday, and the International League's saves leader pitched a scoreless seventh inning in Friday's win. He gave up a hit and a walk but also struck out two.
The 30-year-old had a 2.15 ERA and 20 saves in 25 chances for Norfolk, making the International League All-Star team. Manager Buck Showalter said the club "wanted to get a look at him and get a feel for what we have down there," before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
• The Orioles cleared a 25-man roster spot for Asencio by optioning right-hander Josh Stinson to Norfolk. They opened a space on the 40-man roster by designating righty Jair Jurrjens for assignment.
• Hammel has a 6.30 ERA in his seven home starts.
• The Orioles can tie their season series with the Blue Jays at 6 with a win on Saturday.