The Baltimore Orioles lost to the Toronto Blue Jays today, 4-2. Starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez pitched 7 1/3 very good innings and for the second night in a row the bullpen was responsible for the loss (even if the L goes on Gonzales's record). Blue Jays starter Chien-Ming Wang was surprisingly effective as he and a band of relievers held the Orioles to just two runs on six hits.
Gonzalez hadn't pitched in a game since last Sunday against Boston, and perhaps that's the reason he was little rusty in the first inning. He walked the leadoff batter, Melky Cabrera, but then got two outs before facing Adam Lind. Lind singled to right and Cabrera moving to third on the play. Colby Rasmus was up next, and he threw two pitches in a row that missed high. Catcher Taylor Teagarden couldn't quite get to the second one and it went behind him, allowing Cabrera to score the first run of the game. Gonzalez retired Rasmus, but it looked like it might not be a great day for the starting pitcher. Thankfully, that wasn't the case.
In innings two through four, Gonzalez allowed just one base runner on a walk to Lind, thoroughly making up for his messy first inning. It gave the Orioles a chance to tie the game in the top of the fifth. Through the first four innings the Orioles managed just two hits off of Wang, who was annoyingly good. Leading off the fifth, Chris Davis singled and moved to second on a ground out, putting him in scoring position for Travis Ishikawa. The new Oriole singled back up the middle and Davis came in to score the O's first run.
Here is the thing that has bothered me most about the last two games. The Blue Jays have a lot of good hitters, guys that can beat even the best pitchers on a lot of days. But yesterday they were dominated by Maicer Izturis and Munenori Kawasaki. And in the bottom of the fifth inning today, it happened again. Izturis was the first batter of the inning and he hit an easy home run to give the Blue Jays a 2-1 lead. Izturis! Come on, Orioles. Two batters later Gonzalez walked Kawasaki! Just one pitch before the walk Kawasaki hit a long and high fly ball to right field that just barely went foul. That really would have been ridiculous. But Melky lined into a double play to end the inning and spare the Orioles the embarrassment of letting both Izturis and Kawasaki score in the same inning (again).
The score remained 2-1 until the eighth inning. Wang had been taken out of the game in the seventh and Darren Oliver came in to face Ryan Flaherty, Teagarden, and Nate McLouth. The O's broadcast team of Jim Hunter and Mike Bordick noted that Oliver has been really good against lefties but that righties are hitting over .400 off of him. My guess is that John GIbbons thought to himself, "Two lefties coming up with a righty in between. But it's JUST Taylor Teagarden, so I'll let Oliver face all three batters." Oliver struck out Flaherty, but Teagarden hit a ball that made me believe Oliver lets 40% of righties get a hit. The ball was smoked over the left field fence and the game was tied.
Gonzalez came back out to start the eighth inning and got a ground out from Emilio Bonafacio before Kawasaki singled. I'm starting to hate that guy. With that, Buck Showalter decided to go to the bullpen and bring in Darren O'Day. All in all not a bad afternoon for Miguel Gonzalez.
O'Day first faced Rajai Davis, who hit a ground ball to first base. Ishikawa went to second for the force out but they couldn't double up the speedy Davis. With two outs and a runner on first, O'Day just needed to get Jose Bautista to preserve the tie.
O'Day and Bautista had a pretty good battle. The AB went to a full count and had several fouled off pitches before Bautista won. He hit a line drive to left field that bounced off of the foul pole for his 16th home run of the year. Just like that the Orioles were down 4-2 with only one inning to go.
Jays closer Casey Janssen came in for the ninth and faced the heart of order in Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, and Chris Davis. Markakis hit a lazy fly ball to center field and both Jones and Davis struck out swinging to end the game.
Tomorrow the Orioles will try to beat Josh Johnson to avoid the sweep. I believe Freddy Garcia will be the starter for the Orioles, but it looks like it's still officially TBD.