Orioles-Blue Jays Preview

TORONTO -- The Baltimore Orioles and the Toronto Blue Jays have not seen much of each other this season.

That is about to change. The teams will meet seven times in the next 11 days starting Thursday when the Orioles visit the Blue Jays to open a four-game series at Rogers Centre.

The American League East rivals played only three times this season with the Blue Jays taking two of three from the Orioles at Camden Yards April 19-21.

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The series will have some significance. After their 4-0 victory over the Kansas City Royals to complete a three-game sweep on Wednesday in Baltimore, the Orioles are 12 games above .500 and have a 4 1/2-game lead over the third-place Blue Jays in the AL East.

The Blue Jays finished a 3-3 trip to Boston and Detroit with a 7-2 win over the Tigers on Wednesday afternoon to salvage the finale of the three-game series at Comerica Park.

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons hopes the win will provide momentum for the series opener with Baltimore.

"We hope there is a carryover," Gibbons told reporters after the game on Wednesday. "Baltimore, they swing it as well as anybody. They're hot right now."

One of the Orioles big hitters, Chris Davis, did not play Wednesday because of some nagging injuries. Manager Bug Showalter was not certain if Davis would be available to play Thursday. It will depend on how much the first baseman improves, Showalter said.

"Just trying to pick some time for him to get a day," Showalter said. "We try to do it with a lot of guys. ... Nothing's gotten worse. It's just that time, talking to him today and last night, after the game, it'd be a good day to give him."

There has been some friction between the teams in recent seasons. Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista and Orioles right-handed reliever Darren O'Day have exchanged heated words over the past couple of years although that seems to have quieted.

The Blue Jays will start right-hander Marcus Stroman (5-2, 4.82 ERA) against right-hander Tyler Wilson (2-5, 4.39 ERA) on Thursday. Stroman also has had some moments with the Orioles. He was suspended late in the 2014 season for throwing over the head of Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph.

Both teams have had bench-clearing brawls with other teams this season. The Orioles got into it with the Royals on Tuesday after third baseman Manny Machado was hit by a pitch from Royals right-hander Yordano Ventura. A suspension from the incident for Machado could come during the series in Toronto, barring an appeal.

There were no incidents Wednesday.

"Sometimes the greatest emotions show themselves in silence, so to speak," Showalter said. "If your actions speak pretty loud, you don't have to talk a lot about it."

The Blue Jays and Texas Rangers had a brawl May 15 stemming from Bautista's bat flip after he hit the decisive home run in Game 5 of the AL Division Series between the teams.

Stroman has other things to consider right now. He has allowed six runs in three of his past four starts. He said after his most recent start, Saturday at Boston when he allowed nine hits, five walks and six runs in 5 2/3 innings in a 6-4 loss, that he would make adjustments. He could not identify a specific problem. "I'm not sure, to be honest with you, I'm just in a little bit of a rut," he said.

"I don't think his breaking ball has been as good," Gibbons said. "It's always been a big pitch for him. You can't say it has deserted him, but it hasn't been as sharp. If he tightens that up he'll be fine."

Wilson, who has faced the Blue Jays once this season as a reliever, allowed five runs on seven hits in four innings last Saturday in an 8-6 loss to the New York Yankees.

Both teams have injured players about to return. Blue Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who went on the disabled list on May 27 with a strained right quadriceps, is expected to return Monday without a minor league rehabilitation assignment other than extended spring training.

Orioles right-hander Yovani Gallardo, who has been on the disabled list since April 23 with biceps tendinitis, pitched five innings in a rehabilitation assignment Tuesday for Triple-A Norfolk. He could return to the rotation as early as Sunday in Toronto.

"I'm anxious to get out there, but at the same time we have to discuss the proper way to go about it," Gallardo said Wednesday. "Being out for four-five weeks, it's always difficult. I also didn't throw a baseball for more than three weeks. But I feel good, I've been throwing real well. I think we're going to sit down and discuss and see what the next step is and go from there."