With a loss on Tuesday, the Blue Jays slipped to five games back of the Orioles in the American League East. With Wei-Yin Chen on the hill for Baltimore on Wednesday, it won't get any easier for Toronto.
After holding the Mariners to one run in 7 1/3 innings on Friday, Chen (12-3) picked up his fifth consecutive win. The left-hander's ERA is down to 3.76 this season after never posting a sub-4.00 ERA in his first two MLB seasons.
"I didn't really do anything different than any previous year, but I think the biggest reason I can be on such a good streak is my teammates," Chen said. "They really play well behind me and score runs for me. I think that's the reason. It's not me, it's my teammates."
The next two games won't make or break the season for the Blue Jays, but it's a critical stretch that could give the Orioles a commanding lead or thrust Toronto right back in to the race.
So when Drew Hutchison (7-9) takes the mound on Wednesday, it won't be a must-win game, but a win would help ensure Toronto is still within range to make a run at the division.
"It's a big one, we're chasing those guys," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "It's August, a couple of months left, but any time you're playing the team you're chasing [it's important]. Then of course Detroit comes in and they're a good ballclub, then Seattle and they're right there. These next nine, 10 days are important to us."
Blue Jays: Lawrie makes quick exit in return
Brett Lawrie came off the disabled list on Tuesday and headed back to the sidelines in the fourth inning with lower back tightness.
Lawrie hadn't played since fracturing his right index finger on June 22. He replaced Steve Tolleson on the active roster after the utility man was placed on the paternity list. Lawrie started at third base and went 1-for-1 before leaving the game.
"Too long, it just felt like it was never going to end," Lawrie said of his time away. "But it actually went a little bit quicker than I anticipated. The first little bit was slow, just because I was trying to get the kinks out, the finger was sore."
Orioles: Markakis mashing lefties
Leadoff man Nick Markakis has always hit lefties well, but since 2010, he's been one of baseball's best.
Markakis is a career .290 hitter against southpaws, and he entered Tuesday with 261 hits off lefties since 2010, which was the third-highest total in that span.
He added two more hits off lefty Mark Buehrle on Tuesday. Markakis has batted .449 against Buehrle in his career, which is his highest mark against any pitcher (minimum 50 plate appearances).
• Despite recording 14 hits on Tuesday, Baltimore still has the worst batting average (.223) and on-base percentage (.272) in the AL since the All-Star break.
• After homering three times in his first 48 games, O's catcher Caleb Joseph has homered in each of his last three games.
David Wilson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.