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Ubaldo Jimenez dominates in Orioles 2-0 win over Blue Jays

Ubaldo Jimenez dominates in Orioles 2-0 win over Blue Jays

TORONTO -- Ubaldo Jimenez pitched two-hit ball over eight innings, Jonathan Schoop had two hits and an RBI and the Baltimore Orioles beat the Toronto Blue Jays 2-0 on Thursday night.

Baltimore has won consecutive road series after going more than two months without one. They took two of three at Cincinnati from April 18-20, then didn't win a series away from home before doing so in Tampa Bay last weekend.

After allowing a season-worst nine runs in his previous start against the Rays, Jimenez (3-3) was sharp against Toronto, walking one and striking out a season-high eight. He retired his first eight batters before Ryan Goins doubled in the third, then got another five straight outs.

Jimenez cut his career ERA in eight games at Rogers Centre from 6.33 to 4.89. He's 8-5 in 19 career games against Toronto, his most victories against any opponent other than San Diego (9).

Blue Jays outfielders made spectacular catches to begin and finish the seventh. Center fielder Kevin Pillar leapt and slammed into the scoreboard to snare a drive by Ruben Tejada in right-center field for the first out, and left fielder Carrera raced in to make a diving catch on Schoop to end the inning.

J.A. Happ (2-5) allowed eight hits and two runs in 6 1/3 innings for Toronto.

Brad Brach picked up his 15th save in 18 chances.

Schoop hit a sacrifice fly in the third, and Caleb Joseph, a late add to the lineup in place of injured catcher Welington Castillo, hit an RBI single in the sixth.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Orioles: Castillo was scratched because of a sprained left knee. ... LHP Zach Britton (strained forearm) struck out two in a perfect inning at Double-A Bowie, throwing 14 pitches. He'll pitch one inning for Class A Frederick on Friday, then pitch for Triple-A Norfolk on Monday.

Blue Jays: RHP Aaron Sanchez (blister) will make a second rehab start at Triple-A Buffalo on Sunday, manager John Gibbons confirmed. Sanchez allowed three runs in 3 2/3 innings in his first rehab start at Class A Dunedin on Tuesday.

UP NEXT

Orioles: RHP Chris Tillman (1-5, 8.39) is scheduled to start the opener of a three-game home series against Tampa Bay on Friday. Tillman returned to Baltimore earlier this week to be with his wife, who is expecting the couple's first child. RHP Jacob Faria (3-0, 2.10) will start for the Rays.

Blue Jays: RHP Marco Estrada (4-6, 4.89) starts the opener of a three-game series against Boston. Estrada is 0-4 with a 10.03 ERA in five June starts. RHP Doug Fister (0-1, 4.50) starts for the Red Sox.

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Kevin Gausman changes jersey number to honor Roy Halladay

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USA Today Sports

Kevin Gausman changes jersey number to honor Roy Halladay

BALTIMORE  -- Orioles pitcher Kevin Gausman will wear No. 34 next season as a tribute to Roy Halladay, who was killed in a plane crash last month.

Gausman announced the switch Thursday on his Twitter account. The right-hander wore No. 39 last year.

Gausman and Halladay are both from Colorado, and the Orioles pitcher said he followed Halladay's career closely and idolized him.

In a post next a photo of his new jersey, Gausman wrote: "Roy gave me the inspiration that I could fulfill even my biggest of dreams -- being a pitcher just like him."

Gausman concluded: "The loss of Roy is tragic and saddening, but I feel honored to have watched everything he achieved."

Halladay died on Nov. 7 when his small plane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico. He played 16 big league seasons, winning the Cy Young Award in each league and being named an All-Star eight times.

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Astros, Dodgers set Series HR record amid juiced ball buzz

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USA TODAY Sports

Astros, Dodgers set Series HR record amid juiced ball buzz

HOUSTON (AP) -- Home runs kept flying over the wall at Minute Maid Park, on line drives up toward the train tracks, on fly balls that just dropped over the fence.

Seven more were hit in Game 5, raising the total to a World Series record 22 -- with two possible more games to play. Twenty-five runs were scored in a game started by the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw and the Astros' Dallas Keuchel, Cy Young Award winners regarded as among baseball's best.

After a season when sluggers outpaced even their steroid-era predecessors for home runs, some are convinced that something is amiss with the baseballs.

"The main complaint is that the balls seem a little bit different in the postseason, and even from the postseason to the World Series balls," Justin Verlander said Sunday, two days before he takes the mound in Game 6 and tries to pitch the Astros to their first title. "They're a little slick. You just deal with it. But I don't think it's the case of one pitcher saying, `Hey, something is different here.' I think as a whole, everybody is saying, `Whoa, something is a little off here.'"

A record eight home runs were hit in Game 2, including five in extra innings, and Game 5's seven long balls would have tied the old mark. The 13-12, 10-inning Astros' win Sunday night was the second-highest scoring game in Series history.

Keuchel was quoted as saying after Game 2: "Obviously, the balls are juiced."

Not so obvious to everyone, even amid the power surge.

"I haven't personally noticed anything. I haven't tried to think about it either," Dodgers reliever Brandon Morrow said after giving up two homers in Game 5. "It's not something you want to put in your own head."

Same for Kershaw, even after giving up his record eighth homer of the postseason Sunday.

"I don't really pay attention to it," Kershaw said. "I just assume that both sides are dealing with it, so I'm not going to worry about it."

This year's long ball assault topped the 21 of the 2002 Series. Anaheim hit seven and Barry Bonds and his San Francisco Giants slugged 14 over seven games. That was the year before survey drug testing.

Speculation that something has changed includes a study claiming to have found differences in the size and seam height of balls since the 2015 All-Star break.

"I know there was talk about different sizes and some of the baseballs were slightly bigger and some were smaller. Some of the seams were higher, some of the seams were lower. But, no, it's been consistent," said Rich Hill, who will start Game 6 for the Dodgers. "I think that just has to do with conditions -- if it's colder it's going to be slicker. If it's a little bit warmer out or humid, I think you're going to find that you're going to have a little bit more of moisture to the baseballs."

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred insists nothing nefarious is going on.

"I'm absolutely confident that the balls that we're using are within our established specifications," he said Friday.

Verlander rejected that assertion.

"I know Mr. Manfred said the balls haven't changed, but I think there's enough information out there to say that's not true," he said.

Verlander also does not think it's an issue of how balls are rubbed up before games.

"I know baseball uses the same mud for every single ball for every single game that's played," he said. "I think there's a broader issue that we're all missing."

On the day he become commissioner in January 2015, Manfred said, "I'm cognizant in the drop in offense over the last five years, and it's become a topic of conversation in the game, and it's something that we're going to have to continue to monitor and study."

Offense started rebounding during the second half of the season, and a record 6,105 home runs were hit this year, 2.4 percent more than the previous mark of 5,963 set in 2000 at the height of the Steroids Era.

"I think it's pretty clear," Verlander said. "I think our commissioner has said publicly that they wanted more offense in the game. I'm pretty sure I'm not fabricating a quote here when I say that. I think it was already All-Star break of `15, or right before, when he said that."

San Francisco's Johnny Cueto and Toronto's Marcus Stroman also think the balls have changed, with Stroman blaming slick balls for a rise in pitcher blisters -- an affliction which has struck Hill a few times in the past couple seasons, too.

Houston's Brent Strom and the Dodgers' Rick Honeycutt, the World Series pitching coaches, both were quoted by Sports Illustrated on Sunday as saying the slickness of the ball made throwing sliders difficult.

"Everyone is entitled to their opinion," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "I don't see a ton difference, but I'm not going to get in a verbal war with coaches and players who think otherwise."

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts had a similar view but acknowledged the power records got his attention.

"The pitchers talk about it feels different in their hand. The one component is the slickness and guys at different ballparks rub it up differently," he said. "Sort of feels the same to me. But it's hard to argue the numbers. You know there's more velocity. Guys are swinging harder. I know in Los Angeles the air was light. It was hot. The ball was flying, carrying more than typically. But I hesitate to try to give you any insight because I really don't know."

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