The Baltimore Orioles wasted a six-run night as the Toronto Blue Jays won their ninth game in a row on a walk off single by Rajai Davis in the ninth. The game featured a rare bad performance from relief pitcher Tommy Hunter and a not-so-rare unclutch game from Pedro Strop, who gave up the game-losing hit. With the win, the Blue Jays' record is now 36-36, making the A.L. East the only division in baseball where all five teams are .500 or better.
Jason Hammel was on the mound for the Orioles and he had what has become a typical Jason Hammel night. He had some bad luck in the first inning when, with two outs, Edwin Encarnacion hit a shallow pop up that fell in front of Nick Markakis in right field and then took a turf bounce over his head. Adam Lind, one of the hottest hitters on the Jays, hit a good low pitch from Hammel into the seats for a two-run homer.
The O's got one run back in the top of the second inning on J.J. Hardy's 15th home run of the year, and after that both Hammel and Jays starter R.A. Dickey settled in for a few innings. Hammel retired ten in a row after the Lind home run before walking Maicer Izturis to lead off the fifth. You know what they say about nothing good happening after a walk? Well that goes double when you walk an Izturis, because come on.
Izturis ended up at third base with two outs and Munenori Kawasaki at the plate. Kawasaki may not be a good hitter overall, but he seems to be extra clutch against the Orioles. He is the most adorable arch nemesis in the history of nemeses. He singled to center field to knock in Izturis and give the Blue Jays a 3-1 lead.
Dickey had rolled through innings three through five against the Orioles lineup, but he fell apart in the sixth. Nate McLouth singled, and after Manny Machado lined to right for the first out, Dickey walked Nick Markakis. Adam Jones came to the plate and cut the Jays lead to just one with a single that scored McLouth, and then Chris Davis reminded everyone that he is Chris Davis with a three-run homer to make the score 5-3 in favor of the Orioles. Have I mentioned that Chris Davis is awesome lately?
Hammel immediately gave back one of those runs in the bottom of the inning on a homer to Encarnacion, but Ryan Flaherty (of all people!) homered in the seventh to again make it a two-run lead.
Tommy Hunter replaced Hammel in the seventh and he went boom. With Izturis on base (again), Kawasaki came to the plate. There were two outs and all Hunter had to do was retire this dude who is hitting .221/.337/.307 on the year. He was not successful. Kawasaki hit an off speed pitch out of the park for the first home run in his major-league career. The Jays fans went crazy, chanting Kawasaki as he rounded the bases and tied the game 6-6.
Brian Matusz came on in the 8th inning and got two outs to end the inning, but as often seems to be the case with Brian, he was left out just a little too long. He started the ninth inning and gave up a single to Izturis. Come on, not that guy again! I mean, he is generally considered the better of the Izturises (Izturi?) but he still came into the game with an OPS+ of 55. Tonight he was 2-for-3 with a walk and three runs scored. Oh...that was a spoiler.
After Josh Thole sacrificed Izturis to second, the Orioles opted to intentionally walk pinch hitter Mark DeRosa to set up an inning-ending double play. They almost got it when Kawasaki hit a chopper to second base, but it just wasn't hit hard enough to turn two and Flaherty couldn't tag DeRosa going to second.
With a runner on third base and two outs, acting manager John Russell (Buck Showalter got tossed in the second inning arguing a ridiculous play that I'm too tired to recount at the moment) went to Pedro Strop to get the final out. Wait...what? Seriously? It took Strop three pitches to Rajai Davis to give up the game-losing single and end the game.
It was kind of a crappy game, at least the end. But it was fun watching Flaherty homer. Maybe they'll make that into the next Were You There commercial.
Tomorrow the O's will try to even the series in a 1 o'clock game. New papa Miguel Gonzalez will be on the mound against Chien-Ming Wang.