Owners of the longest current losing streak in the major leagues, the Toronto Blue Jays close out their three-game set against the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday at Camden Yards.
Toronto, now 17 games out of contention in the American League East, has dropped seven consecutive outings and has won only once in the last 11 games overall and that was a narrow 3-2 decision versus Texas a little over a week ago.
On Saturday the Jays offense again came up small in an 8-2 final, marking the fifth time during this current slide that the club has scored no more than two runs in a contest.
"We didn't execute, and we've got to do better," Jays manager John Farrell said after the loss. "I've got to do better, we have to coach better, we have to play better. That was a sloppy game tonight and that's something we can't afford. Defense is something that we have the ability to take control over. We were sloppy."
Toronto, which committed a couple of errors in the contest, actually got off to a positive start with two runs in the top of the first inning, but after that the offense fell silent as the club fell 14 games under .500 for the first time in nearly three years.
Edwin Encarnacion knocked in both runs for the visitors as he belted his 34th home run of the campaign, while the aging Omar Vizquel tallied two of the squad's six hits in the outing.
Starter Brandon Morrow allowed four runs, although only two were earned, as he gave up six hits and a walk while striking out seven over 4 2/3 innings.
Baltimore's Steve Johnson moved to 2-0, and was charged with the two early runs as he permitted four hits, issued two walks and struck out seven in six innings.
J.J. Hardy notched three hits, one being his 17th home run of 2012, and scored three runs. Adam Jones and Matt Wieters both plated two, the latter doing so while striking out three times. Making up for his strike outs, Wieters threw out three attempted basestealers.
"It could have been a whole different ballgame if he doesn't do that," Johnson said of Wieters' efforts. "He's a great catcher back there. He's one of the best."
A loser in four straight starts, Henderson Alvarez tries to get back on track yet again this afternoon as he heads to the mound for the Blue Jays. Less than a month ago the right-hander was an even 7-7, but during his current slide Toronto has scored no more than two runs in any one outing.
Last Sunday Alvarez didn't do himself any favors when he gave up eight earned runs on 12 hits and three walks in just 4 1/3 innings against Texas in an 11-2 setback at home. The hurler struck out only three which means he has recorded only eight total strikeouts during the slide.
Against Baltimore in his career, Alvarez has a record of 1-1 to go along with a 2.48 ERA in four appearances.
While Alvarez has struggled considerably the last few weeks, the same cannot be said for Baltimore starter Chris Tillman who has won five of his last six decisions. Granted, Tillman did have one sour outing against Kansas City when he gave up six runs on three home runs in just 5 2/3 innings, but other than that he has been very solid for the club.
Earlier this week the California native helped the O's capture a 5-3 win over Texas in Arlington, working his way through 6 2/3 innings and allowing three runs on six hits, while striking out seven to move to 6-2 on the campaign.
A second-round draft pick of Seattle back in 2006, Tillman has a record of 1-2 with a 4.45 ERA in five previous matchups against the Jays.
The Orioles, winners of two in a row and three of the last four, remain in the playoff hunt as they sit just four games out of first in the AL East where they trail both the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays. Baltimore, which had a record of only 9-27 versus the Jays in 2010 and 2011, leads the season series this time around by a count of 7-4 thanks to a 5-0 mark at home.