For the second straight game, the Orioles faced a Blue Jays team that appeared to have no interest in putting forth a serious effort to win a baseball game. Having clinched the division yesterday, the Jays pulled David Price to rest him up for the postseason and did not start any of their regular position players. When the dust settled six hours after the game began, the O's were winners, 6-4.
The game was strange enough from the get-go being as it was moved from its original start time to a 12:05pm start time in hopes of avoiding a rainstorm that might cause problems. The thing about weather forecasts is they're only educated guesses. As it turned out, the rain was there from the beginning of the game. Thick drops fell in the first inning, sapping the mojo of Oriole killer Drew Hutchison, who labored through an inning where he gave up three runs on four hits and one walk.
Two of those runs scored when Manny Machado hit his 32nd home run of the year. Even through the pouring rain, Manny managed to hit a ball hard enough that it was crushed into the Orioles bullpen. Take that, Hutchison. He'll end the season with a 13-5 record despite a 5.47 ERA. That's actually stupid.
Rain, rain, go away
The playing surface was wrecked by the constant downpour. The game went into a delay after only the one inning. That delay lasted for three hours and 25 minutes before the game would resume again. Of course the starters were long gone, the O's Tyler Wilson being cut short by rain in his final start of the season. The game became T.J. McFarland's chance to impress instead.
Sure, McFarland was facing a bunch of nobodies, but he did all that you could want, putting together four strong innings where he kept the ball on the ground even while giving up five hits, so the Jays never threatened too much. The lone run that the Jays scored off McFarland came when Munenori Kawasaki hit a routine groundout while there was a man on third base and less than two outs.
While McFarland was in the game, the O's tagged three different Jays relievers for a run apiece. Who knew that you are allowed to score in more than one inning of a game? Sometimes it seems like the O's don't know it. Machado scored one of them when he hit his second home run of the game, and 33rd of the season. That came off of Chad Jenkins.
The rainy mess of a game was good for Machado, who also added two stolen bases on top of his two home runs. Those were numbers 19 and 20 on the year for him, putting him in both the 20-20 club (home runs and stolen bases) and also the 30-20 club. That 20-20 mark has only been done six times in Orioles history before this year. Three of the six 20-20 seasons belong to Brady Anderson, who is now joined by Machado in the Orioles 30-20 club.
Following McFarland, Mychal Givens buzzed through three Jays, striking out the side in a clean inning. If the rest of the game was that easy, that would have been nice for the Orioles. This did not prove to be the case. Of the seven pitchers the O's used, Givens was the only one who did not allow a baserunner. Some allowed more than one.
That number included Brad Brach, who began the seventh inning by issuing a leadoff walk to Kawasaki. A single and a double later and Brach had allowed a run with two men still in scoring position. Brach struck out yesterday's hot hitter, Ryan Goins, who had pinch hit for Cliff Pennington earlier in the game. With left-handed Ezequiel Carrera due up, Brian Matusz was summoned to do his job.
Here is the thing about Matusz with inherited runners. It hasn't worked out very well this year. Going into today, Matusz had allowed 15 of the 44 runners he inherited to score. That means he strands them about 66% of the time. That's not a good number at all, especially for a pitcher who quite often is brought into a game solely to face one batter.
LOOGY, LOOGY, go away
With all of that said, it should come as no surprise to you that, rather than retire Carrera - who will not be mistaken any time soon for one of the game's great left-handed batters - Matusz instead gave up a bases-clearing double. So I guess we'd better make that 17 of 46 inherited runners scoring, dropping that strand rate even lower, to 63%. That's a sub-Ayalan strand rate. That's really bad.
The other thing that was bad about it is the game was suddenly interesting - the score was 6-4 and the tying run was at the plate. Even with this being the case, Jays manager John Gibbons never summoned any of his big names. Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, and Edwin Encarnacion saw no action. It's defensible in a way. Why risk a player in the cold and wet game that was played today?
Matusz was bounced after one batter, like you do. Following him was Darren O'Day. That rally was snuffed out, although as O'Day pitched the next inning, he did bring the tying run to the plate once again by hitting Matt Hague with a pitch to lead off the inning. No big deal. A popout and two strikeouts later and the inning was over.
Closer Zach Britton also led off his own inning by hitting a Jays batter with a pitch. That was #9 hitter Jonathan Diaz. You never want to put any #9 batter on base, but especially not the #9 batter in THIS forfeit lineup. Lucky for Britton, he's a ground ball machine with slick infielders like Machado behind him, so the next batter, Dalton Pompey, hit an around-the-horn double play to erase the runner. Britton struck out yesterday's terror, Goins, to finally end the festivities.
In very un-Oriole fashion, they drew eight walks in this game. Two of those eight walks came around to score.
The Orioles will take the wins. They all count, and the O's still have slim hopes of getting back to the .500 plateau. They can do it only if they sweep the Yankees in the final three games, and, with the pending arrival and unknown severity of Hurricane Joaquin, they might not even get a chance to play all of those games.
As things stand now, the Friday opener is set to go off at the standard civilized baseball time of 7:05pm Eastern. Adam Warren and Wei-Yin Chen are the scheduled starting pitchers.