Orioles 2, Blue Jays 5: Splitsville

Rob Carr

The Orioles, despite great performances by Adam Jones and Nelson Cruz and a decent start from Chris Tillman, lost today to split the four-game series with the Blue Jays.

3, 3, 2, 4, 3, 1, 5, 2, 3, 2, 4, 1, 1, 1. Those are Chris Tillman’s walk totals in each game this year. After today you can add a nice round zero to the list. That's right -- he didn't walk a single batter, nor did he allow a home run. However he also didn't strike anyone out. It was a curious day for him, with every plate appearance ending in a ball in play. That means the defense had to work, and they did, keeping the game close during Tillman’s time on the mound.

The Blue Jays took just three batters to score their first run. Jose Reyes singled to open up the game, moved to second on a groundout by Melky Cabrera, and scored when Jose Bautista doubled off the right-field wall on a 3-2 pitch. The second run scored in the fourth, when Dioner Navarro singled home Edwin Encarnacion, who’d doubled and moved to third on flyout by Brett Lawrie. The last run against Tillman came in the fifth. After Anthony Gose led off with a single, Jose Reyes slapped a double to right field. Gose moved to third and scored when Melky Cabrera hit a sacrifice fly.

Meanwhile, the Orioles put runners on against Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ but couldn't push any across. A frustrating moment came in the third, with the Orioles down 1-0. J.J. Hardy doubled and Jonathan Schoop followed with a single. Nick Hundley then hit a mistake pitch all the way to the warning track in center field. It stayed in the yard but it was hit far enough that both Hardy and Schoop tagged and moved up a base. With two runners in scoring position and one out, Nick Markakis worked the count full but struck out. Manny Machado then stepped in and hacked at three terrible pitches to end the inning.

The plate appearances contrasted sharply. Happ was consistently throwing at Hundley’s and Markakis’s knees, trying to get ground balls, but he kept missing. Hundley was patient and waited for a pitch he could drive; Markakis battled but ultimately struck out. Against Machado, though, Happ intentionally went outside the zone, taking advantage of Machado’s eagerness to drive runners in. I hope Buck Showalter uses that as a "teachable moment."

The Orioles got a couple of hits the second time through the order but had to wait until the third trip to get off the schneid. In the bottom of the sixth, Adam Jones doubled with two outs. Nelson Cruz, who’s been so dangerous against lefties this year, promptly singled to center field to cut the Jays’ lead to 3-1. It was part of an impressive day for Cruz, who after being in a mini slump went 3-3 with a walk.

Neither side could push the score until Tommy Hunter entered the game in the 8th. Since Tillman hadn’t walked anyone, Hunter decided to treat the fans to a couple free passes. He started by walking Jose Bautista on five pitches. Edwin Encarnacion then timed a 96 MPH heater perfectly and ripped a ground-rule double over Nelson Cruz’s head in left. With Bautista now at third, Brett Lawrie chopped at the first pitch he saw and sent a sharp grounder to J.J. Hardy, who quickly fired to Hundley at the plate to nail Bautista trying to score. It was a close play; manager John Gibbons challenged the ruling but it was upheld.

O’s fans breathed a sigh of relief, but Navarro doubled to bring in Encarnacion and make it 4-1. Hunter then walked backup catcher Eric Kratz. He got Steve Tolleson to ground into a fielder’s choice, but that same play also brought Lawrie in to score. Showalter removed Hunter for T.J. McFarland, who worked out of it. 5-1 Jays.

In the bottom half, Adam Jones banged his 11th homer of the year to bring it up to 5-2, but it was too little, too late. Jones also had a fine day, going 2-4 with a double and a home run.

Here's how the game progressed. Notice the sharp drop in Orioles' win expectancy in the third inning, That was when Machado struck out.


Source: FanGraphs

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