(Sports Network) - The Toronto Blue Jays' offence should get a much needed boost tonight with the expected return of slugger Jose Bautista as they open a three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles.
Bautista has been out of the lineup since spraining his wrist against the New York Yankees on July 16th.
Bautista was hitting .244 with 27 home runs and 65 RBIs at the time of the injury, the Jays went 11-23 in his absence.
Right-hander Carlos Villanueva will take the hill against the Orioles for the Blue Jays.
The 28-year-old Dominican began the season with six consecutive wins - including four in four starts between July 4-July 27 - while posting a 2.92 earned run average in 61 2/3 innings.
He's not won in four starts thus far in August, when he's gone 0-3 while allowing 22 hits and 10 runs in 25 1/3 innings.
He was a 2-1 loser to Texas on Aug. 18 after giving up two runs in 6 1/3 innings.
In six career meetings with the Orioles, Villanueva is 2-0 with a 3.91 earned run average in 23 innings.
Baltimore counters with lefty Zach Britton, who starts for the seventh time this year and the second time in his career against Toronto.
The 24-year-old won a 3-2 decision at Detroit in his most recent outing on Aug. 18 after tossing seven scoreless innings of six-hit ball with three walks and five strikeouts.
The gem ended a streak in which Britton had surrendered six or more runs in three straight starts while his ERA ballooned from 3.60 to 8.10.
He was 11-11 in 28 starts as a rookie last season, including a loss to the Blue Jays after allowing seven runs in six hits in five innings.
On Thursday in Detroit, Alex Avila drove in the game-winning run in the bottom of the 11th inning as the Tigers downed the Blue Jays, 3-2, to complete a three-game sweep at Comerica Park.
Jhonny Peralta singled off Chad Jenkins (0-1) to start the 11th, but was wiped off the base paths on Delmon Young's fielder's choice groundout. Pinch-runner Quintin Berry replaced Young and promptly stole second before Jeff Baker walked.
After Andy Dirks struck out, Avila ripped a single into right field and Berry slid in safely at home to give the Tigers the win.
Toronto starter J.A. Happ spun 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball, scattering four hits and walking three while striking out seven for the Jays. Justin Verlander allowed just two runs on four hits and struck out 12 over nine frames for Detroit.
On Wednesday in Texas, Adrian Beltre hit three homers, including two in the fourth inning, and Mitch Moreland hit a grand slam as the Rangers trampled the Orioles, 12-3.
Nick Markakis went 3-for-4 and drove in all three runs for Baltimore, which lost for the second time in five games.
Tommy Hunter (4-8) was tagged for eight runs on eight hits while walking two over three-plus innings to lose his fourth consecutive decision.
The Orioles won five of the first nine games between the teams in 2012, but dropped three straight in a series from May 28-30 at Rogers Centre. The Blue Jays won last year's series, 12-6.