Guthrie hopes to avoid 18th loss in opener with Blue Jays

Jeremy Guthrie tries to avoid an 18th loss this evening game series with the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.

Big things were expected for Guthrie coming into the season, especially after he tossed eight scoreless innings to beat the Tampa Bay Rays on Opening Day. However, things have gone terribly wrong for the right-hander, who is 6-17 on the year with a 4.45 earned run average.

"My main goal coming into the year was hopefully to win double-digit games for us," Guthrie said. "As it stands, I've got four more chances to win four games, and that would put me at 10, which is a small accomplishment for the season. That's what I've been shooting for. That's where my focus has been since Day 1 -- to try to win. And I haven't done a good job of that, but [I will] try to get better."

Guthrie's latest loss came on Sunday against the Rays, as he allowed seven runs (three earned) and seven hits in five innings. He also surrendered his team-leading 24th home run of the season and has given up at least one round- tripper in eight of his last 10 starts.

Toronto has given the 32-year-old hurler fits over his career, as Guthrie is a mere 2-7 lifetime against the Jays with a 3.67 ERA in 18 starts.

Baltimore, though, enters tonight's tilt riding high after back-to-back wins over the New York Yankees, including Thursday's 5-4 triumph in 10 innings that saw it rally from an early 4-1 deficit.

"To come out and play a game with that intensity and knowing how much it means to the Yankees, and for our guys to play on the same level of intensity, I'm pretty proud of them," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said.

Toronto also took care of business against an American League East powerhouse, as it took three of four from the Boston Red Sox. On Thursday the Jays secured a series win, as J.P. Arencibia hit a three-run home run, while Edwin Encarnacion and Eric Thames added solo shots, helping Toronto to a 7-4 win.

"Taking three out of four against a team that's near the top of the division is huge," said Arencibia.

Ricky Romero (14-10) worked 6 2/3 innings for the victory, allowing five hits and three runs with three walks and striking out seven.

Hoping to continue that momentum tonight will be lefty Brett Cecil, who is 4-8 with a 4.60 ERA. Cecil lost his fourth straight decision on Sunday against the Yankees, as he allowed five runs (four earned) and five hits in six innings.

"I think he's got to identify what he did in the middle innings, where he made some adjustments and used that changeup a little bit more," Blue Jays bench coach Don Wakamatsu said after Cecil's last outing. "Then it gives a lot more life to the fastball, and he doesn't make mistakes with it as much. Hopefully, he learns from that."

Cecil, who is 3-0 in five starts versus the O's, also gave up two home runs in the loss to the Yanks and has now surrendered 18 in just 17 starts this season.

Toronto has won 10 of its 15 matchups with the O's after going 15-3 in the season series a year ago against them.