Orioles hit road for last time in '09

Orioles hit road for last time in '09

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles' long and grueling road schedule comes down to one last road trip, an 11-day excursion that will take them through three cities and take them up to the last weekend of the year. The club will travel through Toronto, Cleveland and St. Petersburg before coming home to conclude the season against the Blue Jays.

"It's going to be a long road trip," said designated hitter Luke Scott. "We'll just go ahead and do our best."

And while it may be a long trip, it also represents a break in scheduling. The Orioles have spent much of the past month playing against postseason contenders, and none of their remaining opponents has a shot at the playoffs. Tampa Bay comes the closest, and Baltimore is 7-7 against the Rays this season.

Baltimore is also 6-6 against Toronto and 2-2 against Cleveland, providing for a competitive end-run. And if the Orioles play well, they can help eradicate one of the season's weak points. Baltimore hasn't had a winning road trip all year and has won only six series on the road. And of those, only two have come in the second half.

The Orioles have been in evaluation mode for the past couple weeks, and they've already decided to shut down southpaw starter Brian Matusz. Rookie catcher Matt Wieters has begun to heat up in recent weeks and has even moved up in the order. Wieters, who hit No. 3 on Sunday, is batting .340 (20-for-54) in his past 15 games.

"He looks comfortable," said manager Dave Trembley. "[He's been getting] a lot of nice comments about him from opposing players and coaches and managers that haven't seen him in a while. The good ones get better as it goes on. He's getting some experience. He's going to be a middle-of-the-order hitter at some point in time. It's good that he's getting his feet wet now. He's ending the season and, hopefully, the next couple weeks, he continues to do so on an upswing."

Baltimore is 1-5 on the road against Toronto this season and hasn't played there since early August. The Orioles left Rogers Centre with a 46-65 record after that series, and they've gone 14-24 since then.

Pitching matchup
BAL: RHP Chris Tillman (2-3, 4.50 ERA)
Tillman will make at least two more starts before the Orioles shut him down for the year, and he may wind up pitching through the end just like the rest of the staff. Baltimore has elected to be careful with the 21-year-old in terms of pitch counts and innings limits, and so far it's worked. Tillman retired the first 10 batters in his previous outing and allowed just one run in 6 2/3 innings against Tampa Bay.

TOR: LHP David Purcey (0-2, 6.32 ERA)
On Monday, Purcey took the mound for the Blue Jays for the first time since April 27. The lefty walked away with a no-decision after a decent effort in which he surrendered two runs on five hits with four walks and four strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings. Before being recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas, Purcey went 9-6 with a 4.46 ERA, 109 strikeouts and 78 walks in 139 1/3 innings over 24 starts.

Bird bites
Second baseman Brian Roberts hit his 54th double of the season on Sunday to extend his franchise record and come close to making baseball history. With his next double, Roberts will tie Lance Berkman for the most (55) by a switch-hitter. ... Scott tied his own career high with his 24th home run of the season on Sunday. ... Wieters went 3-for-4 on Sunday and is 6-for-9 since moving up to the No. 3 slot in the lineup. ... The Orioles are 36-42 at home and 24-47 on the road this season. Baltimore is 19-29 in series openers and 16-32 in series finales. ... The Orioles are 39-32 when they score first and 21-57 when their opponent draws first blood. Baltimore is 54-35 when it scores four runs or more and 6-54 when it scores fewer than that. ... The Orioles are 48-48 when they hit a home run.

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Up next
• Tuesday: Orioles (Mark Hendrickson, 5-5, 4.47) at Blue Jays (Brian Tallet, 7-9, 5.31), 7:07 p.m. ET
• Wednesday: Orioles (Jeremy Guthrie, 10-15, 5.05) at Blue Jays (Scott Richmond, 10-15, 5.05), 7:07 p.m. ET
• Thursday: Off-day

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.