April 8, 2012; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles pitcher Jason Hammel (39) pitches in the eighth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Orioles completed the sweep by defeating the Twins 3 - 1. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE

Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays Preview

At 4:07 PM ET in Toronto, two AL East teams will square off in the second game of a three game set. Yesterday, the Baltimore Orioles (4-3) defeated the Toronto Blue Jays (4-3) behind a 3-5 performance from outfielder Nolan Reimold, who hit two doubles and a home run while also scoring three runs in the 7-5 victory for the O’s. Wilson Betemit had the crucial two RBI single in the eighth inning, and this game was all about offense with both teams combining to hit seven home runs.

The Orioles acquired Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom in a trade with the Colorado Rockies, but they had to send fan-favorite and ace Jeremy Guthrie to the Rockies to obtain both pitchers. 2012 is a make-or-break year for Hammel, with many wondering if the pitcher truly regressed in a disappointing 1 WAR season in 2011. In the two previous seasons, Hammel had been worth exactly 3.9 WAR.

The newly minted Orioles starter is trying to calm the criticism and show that the 2009 and 2010 seasons were a good indication of his true value. In his first start of the season, Hammel took a no-hitter into the eighth inning against the Minnesota Twins, before giving up two hits and a subsequent run. He finished eight innings and allowed just one run in the 3-1 victory for the Orioles.

Yesterday’s win was important for the Orioles, because they proved that they can slug with Jose Bautista and the Jays. The 7-5 victory also signified their first win in a rough, ten-game road stand. AccuScore sees Toronto as the favorites in this game with a 58% chance of winning, and their chances at victory lie largely in their young starter’s hands.

22-year-old starter Henderson Alvarez will take the mound for the Blue Jays after surrendering just four hits and a walk in six quality innings for the Jays in their 4-2 loss. Sergio Santos, however, blew the save, but neither he nor fellow offseason relief acquisition Matt Lindstrom will be able to pitch in this one; both are day-to-day with injuries. Santos is a quality pitcher and the loss will hurt them, especially after yesterday’s debacle in the pen. The last three O’s relievers absolutely shut down Toronto, while the final three on the Jays gave up a run apiece.

After his three-hit game against Cleveland, superstar Jose Bautista is just 2-22 and will need to be at his best if Hammel is at his near-no-hitter best. Bautista has never recorded a hit off of the former Rockies starter, although Mark Reynolds has also never recorded a hit off of Alvarez. In fact, Reynolds has struck out in all three at-bats against the young righty. Despite these notes, AccuScore believes that Reynolds and Bautista will be the top offensive performers for their respective teams. Reynolds, by the way, has struggled this year with a .280 OBP, ten strikeouts, and no home runs in 25 plate appearances thus far.

Adam Jones has started the season on fire with a seven-game hitting streak, which is the longest to start the season in franchise history since 2006 when Jay Gibbons (0.1 WAR that season, currently on the Los Angeles Dodgers) hit in ten straight. Jones went 3-4 with a homer and two RBIs against the Jays and has a .400 OBP in the early season. He is currently second on the team- behind Matt Wieters- with 0.5 WAR.

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Tags: Adam Jones Baltimore Orioles Boston Red Sox Cleveland Indians Colorado Rockies Henderson Alvarez Jason Hammel Jay Gibbons Jeremy Guthrie Jose Bautista Los Angeles Dodgers Mark Reynolds Matt Lindstrom Matt Wieters Minnesota Twins Nolan Reimold Sergio Santos Toronto Blue Jays Wilson Betemit

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