One night after the Orioles sent out one of their top pitching prospects for his first Major League start, the Blue Jays will make a similar move in an attempt to extend their winning streak to three.
Left-hander Sean Nolin, the Blue Jays' No. 8 prospect according to MLB.com, will get the ball on Friday in Toronto after being promoted from Double-A New Hampshire on Thursday. A sixth-round pick in the 2010 Draft, Nolin is 2-0 with a 1.17 ERA and 16 strikeouts in three starts for the Fisher Cats this year after returning from a left groin strain he sustained during Spring Training.
"His last few starts, he looked really good," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said on Thursday. "The kid wins wherever he goes."
His counterpart on the mound will be 25-year-old Chris Tillman, whose quality start last Sunday went unrewarded in a 3-1 loss to the Rays, the penultimate loss of Baltimore's six-game losing streak. Tillman scattered five hits over six innings, but he gave up a pair of solo home runs and was outdueled by Rays ace Matt Moore, who tamed an Orioles offense that currently ranks fourth in the majors in runs scored.
"Pitching wasn't the issue today," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said after Sunday's loss. "It was trying to solve Moore."
Don't be surprised if Showalter allows Tillman's pitch count to climb on Friday -- the 6-foot-5 righty has thrown over 110 pitches in three of his last four starts. Only fellow starter Jason Hammel has thrown more pitches for the Orioles this season, and he has started one more game than Tillman.
The Orioles may be more concerned with the consistency of their bullpen than anything their starting rotation does. Closer Jim Johnson has blown his last three save opportunities after setting a franchise record by converting 35 saves in a row. The Blue Jays tagged relievers Troy Patton, Pedro Strop and T.J. McFarland for eight more runs in Thursday's series opener, a 12-6 Toronto win.
The Blue Jays are hoping to use their current nine-game homestand to make up some ground after a rocky start left them looking up at the rest of the division. After taking two of three from Tampa Bay earlier this week, this weekend marks the last time Toronto will play a division opponent for nearly a month.
Orioles: Gausman on display
Kevin Gausman gave up four runs on seven hits in his first career start on Thursday night. The fourth overall pick in last year's First-Year Player Draft did not factor into the decision, but he did become the first player drafted in 2012 to make his Major League debut. He made just eight starts for the Bowie Baysox, Baltimore's Double-A affiliate, before getting the call to the big leagues.
Righty Jake Arrieta was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk to make room for Gausman on the 25-man roster.
• Serving as the designated hitter for the third straight game while dealing with soreness in his groin, Adam Jones blasted a 1-2 fastball over the left-field wall in the eighth inning for his seventh home run of the season. It was just his second hit in 16 plate appearances in the DH slot.
• Manny Machado posted his eighth three-hit game of the season in the series opener on Thursday with three doubles and two RBIs.
Blue Jays: O's own Bautista
Jose Bautista has not fared well in recent years against the team that gave him his first Major League chance. Originally drafted by Pittsburgh, the Toronto outfielder was selected by the Orioles in the 2003 Rule 5 Draft, appearing in 16 games for Baltimore in '04 before being placed on waivers two months into the season.
Bautista hit nine of his league-leading 54 homers in 2010 off of Baltimore pitchers. Since the start of the '11 season, however, he has hit .175 against the Orioles with just three home runs and 15 RBIs in 33 games. He went 0-for-3 with two walks in Thursday night's win.
• Blue Jays first baseman Edwin Encarnacion belted his fifth career grand slam on Thursday night. He is 31-for-98 with 102 RBIs in his career with the bases loaded.
• The Orioles have won just two of their last 10 gamesheading into Friday night, thanks in large part to a six-game losing streak that was snapped with Tuesday's 3-2 win over the Yankees in 10 innings.
• Thursday was Showalter's 57th birthday.
Eric Single is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.