After getting blown out in their past two games, the Orioles had a pretty good matchup to try and right the ship, with Ubaldo Jimenez facing off against Aaron Sanchez, a rematch from a 7-1 Baltimore win on April 11th. Unfortunately, the O's couldn't take advantage of a wild performance from the Jays' starter, stranding baserunner after baserunner and ultimately getting doubled up 4-2.
Sanchez looked awful at the start of the game, having a lot of trouble locating his fastball, but two huge double plays helped him get through the first two innings unscathed. In the first, Adam Jones stepped to the plate after consecutive walks to Jimmy Paredes and Chris Davis, and was greeted by a chorus of boos from the Rogers Centre crowd. "Chorus" may be a stretch considering there were about twelve fans in attendance, but nonetheless those boos would turn to cheers when Jones scorched a line drive right at Justin Smoak to double up Paredes and kill a potential rally. In the second, Manny Machado walked on four straight pitches, but Ryan Flaherty had a terrible at-bat and grounded into a double play himself, swinging at a bad outside pitch after Sanchez had previously missed the plate with six straight.
Meanwhile, Jimenez was rolling, allowing a base hit to Devon Travis in the first but otherwise mowing down Toronto in the first few innings. The O's finally got to Sanchez in the third, when yet another walk put Caleb Joseph on base. Jimmy Paredes continued his red hot performance at the plate, blasting an opposite field home run to give the Birds a 2-0 lead. Chris Davis followed with a single and and Jones walked, but Travis Snider hit a hard line drive right at left fielder Ryan Goins to end the inning.
Things were looking good, but 2014 Ubaldo made an abrupt return in the 4th, and it wasn't pretty. After a leadoff walk to Edwin Encarnacion, Justin Smoak quickly tied the game with a blast to left-center. Jimenez suddenly couldn't find the zone at all, walking two more batters before finally escaping the inning. In the fifth, Jose Reyes escaped a 2-strike count with a single up the middle, and Devon Travis made Jimenez pay for it, hitting a home run to dead center that may have landed in Quebec. Ubaldo made it through the rest of the inning, but that was the end of his day.
Sanchez had settled in for a few innings, but the control issues surfaced again in the sixth. He was replaced by Roberto Osuna after walks to both Davis and Snider, his sixth and seventh of the day. Machado singled to load the bases with one out, but Ryan Flaherty continued his rally-killing ways by popping up the first pitch he saw, and Caleb Joseph struck out to strand three more runners.
In the top of the seventh, Alejandro de Aza broke his slump with a one-out single to left and took second when the ball was misplayed in the outfield. Two batters later, with two outs and Chris Davis at the plate, he tried to steal third and was gunned down. There are run-of-the-mill TOOTBLANs, and there are awful, crippling TOOTBLANs. This was the latter, and it killed a chance to pick up at least one huge run late in the game. The next few half innings were quick, but the Orioles started to get something going against Miguel Castro in the ninth. Manny Machado led off with a double and Flaherty followed that up with a walk, but a Caleb Joseph strikeout and a 6-4-3 double play from Delmon Young brought the game to a close.
De Aza slapped himself in the head after his moronic stolen base attempt, but he's far from the only Baltimore player that could use a good smack for their performance tonight's game. The Orioles put on an absolute clinic on how to strand baserunners - they completely abandoned their patient strategy after the third inning, swinging at a bunch of bad, early count pitches against a young and wild starter. Meanwhile, the defense didn't technically have an error, but Toronto did have at least 3 or 4 hits on balls that would have been tough but not impossible plays to make (I'm looking at you, Everth Cabrera). It was an ugly performance in every way, and a blown opportunity to get a much-needed win coming off of getting destroyed two games in a row.
Pretty much the only O's to really play well were Manny Machado, who had a nice game both at the plate and in the field, and Jimmy Paredes. Kevin Gausman did throw two shutout innings, his second straight good outing. His appearance tonight also doesn't bode well for those who wanted to see him start Sunday instead of Bud Norris.
It's too early to panic (remember the poor start to the season last year), but this sure hasn't been a fun week to be a Baltimore fan. The O's are now 7-8 and have lost four of five against Toronto. Naturally, they'll square off against Oriole killer Drew Hutchison tomorrow, with Chris Tillman taking the hill for the Birds.