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American League Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, April 11th (All times eastern)

Toronto Blue Jays (5-5) at Baltimore Orioles (4-5), 7:05 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Toronto - Dustin McGowan (0-1, 13.50) Baltimore - Chris Tillman (1-0, 1.35)

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Toronto Blue Jays kick off a nine-game road trip Friday in Baltimore as they open a weekend series with the Orioles at Camden Yards.

Right-hander Dustin McGowan gets the nod for the visiting Blue Jays and will look to rebound from a rough first assignment against the New York Yankees last Friday. In that outing, McGowan was tagged for four runs on eight hits in 2 2/3 innings of a 7-3 loss.

That start was McGowan's first in almost three years after spending last season in the bullpen and the previous one recovering from surgery. The rust was evident, as he worked up too much of a sweat in the bullpen prior to the game and tipped his pitches a few times.

"He's better than that and he'll get better than that," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.

For Baltimore, right-hander Chris Tillman appears to have picked up right where he left off last year when he went 16-7 with a 3.71 ERA and earned his first All-Star nod. Tillman has allowed only one earned run in each of his first two starts and went 8 1/3 innings at Detroit in his last outing.

His teammates are starting to look at Tillman as the true ace of the staff.

"He's definitely working his way up to that status," right fielder Nick Markakis said. "He's learning how to pitch, he's learning how to attack the zone, he's got confidence on the mound. And when you got confidence and talent, it takes you a long way."

Orioles third baseman Jonathan Schoop spoiled Masahiro Tanaka's first home start for the Yankees with a three-run homer in the second inning on Wednesday as Baltimore went on to earn a 5-4 win and a series victory.

The O's broke a 3-3 tie with two runs in the ninth off reliever Shawn Kelley.

With an off day Thursday, they are hoping to get shortstop J.J. Hardy back into the lineup after missing five of the last six games with recurring back spasms. The plan was for Hardy to test out his back at the ballpark on Thursday and see how it responds.

"We'll see how it feels. Hopefully I'll be able to do everything and should be good to go," Hardy said. "I feel good about it."

Toronto missed out on a series sweep over Houston on Thursday as it fell, 6-4. R.A. Dickey, who effectively switched spots with McGowan in the rotation, served up a pair of costly home runs after not allowing any in his first two starts. Last year, he gave up the second-most home runs in the majors.

Dickey went on to yield five runs in seven innings against the Astros.

Baltimore won last year's season series with the Blue Jays by a slim 10-9 margin.

04/11 10:25:23 ET