The Toronto Blue Jays hoped R.A. Dickey would be in for a bounce-back year after a disappointing first season with the club. So far, however, 2014 has been even worse.
A matchup Tuesday night with the Baltimore Orioles could be trouble for the struggling knuckleballer given the more patient approach by some of Baltimore's top sluggers.Dickey (1-3, 6.26 ERA) has given up at least five runs in all three losses. He needed 112 pitches to get through a season-worst 4 1/3 innings in a 7-0 defeat at Minnesota on Thursday with all five runs charged against him coming in the fifth.The right-hander also issued five walks and is averaging 5.9 per nine innings after entering the season with a 2.8 career rate."It's been moving an awful lot, more so than I've seen in the past even, so I think that's a contributing factor to the walks," catcher Josh Thole said of Dickey's knuckeball.Figuring things out versus the Orioles could prove to be difficult after Dickey was 0-2 with a 7.71 ERA in three starts against them last season. He surrendered five homers and 10 walks in 18 2/3 innings.Toronto (10-9), which returns home from a 5-4 trip, meets a Baltimore (9-9) squad that salvaged a four-game split in Boston with a 7-6 victory Monday.After leading the majors with 212 home runs last season, the Orioles are homerless in five of their last six games but are batting .290 during that stretch. Their 10 home runs this season are the second-fewest in baseball.Chris Davis, Adam Jones and J.J. Hardy combined for 111 homers in 2013, but Davis and Jones have just one each while Hardy has none. Davis' homer came in an 11-3 loss on April 13 to the Blue Jays, who took two of three from the Orioles in that series.However, Davis and Jones both boast improved on-base percentages, with Jones going 10 for 21 during a five-game hitting streak. Jones is also batting .366 with 14 homers in 39 games against Toronto since the start of the 2012 season, but is just 3 for 16 all-time against Dickey.Davis is averaging a walk per 6.4 plate appearances after drawing one every 9.4 last season. He has reached base in a career high-matching 17 straight games."This year, obviously not quite as hot as I was last year," said Davis, who recorded seven home runs and 19 RBIs against Toronto last season, to the team's website. "But getting a chance to see a lot of pitches, being patient, which is not something that I'm used to."Toronto squandered a chance at its first sweep of the season with a 6-4 loss in Cleveland on Sunday. The Blue Jays held a two-run lead entering the bottom of the sixth but reliever Aaron Loup walked the bases full before giving up a three-run double. They issued six walks for the game and have walked 81 on the season, among the most in baseball.Jose Reyes was 2 for 5 in his second game since returning from a strained left hamstring suffered in the season opener. He's hit safely in 14 of 15 career games versus Baltimore with seven doubles.Jose Bautista has reached base in all 19 games this season, while Melky Cabrera has recorded at least one hit in all but one contest with a .563 slugging percentage.Those three are a combined 3 for 22 off Baltimore starter Miguel Gonzalez (1-1, 6.28). He yielded three hits over five innings in a 3-0 win over Tampa Bay on Wednesday after allowing 10 runs in his first two outings.The right-hander is 4-2 with a 3.02 ERA in seven starts versus Toronto.