The bases were full of Blue Jays in the eighth inning of a 2-2 game in Toronto. There was no one out. Darren O'Day had them right where he wanted them. The Orioles side-armer mowed down the Jays 1-2-3, cool as you please, There's no such thing as momentum, except for when there is, and as much as it was in the Jays corner that half-inning, it swung to the Orioles in the top of the ninth. They rallied for three runs to take a 5-2 lead that turned into a 5-3 victory.
A frenzied top of the ninth got started when Chris Davis broke his latest long hitless streak by hitting a single over the glove of Jays second baseman Ryan Goins. Had the Jays played a traditional shift against Davis, this would not have been a hit. Two outs later, there was still only a man on first base. Jays reliever Aaron Loup tried to come inside on Ryan Flaherty and instead went into his rib cage. Probably not intentional, given the situation and also why would anyone intentionally hit Flaherty, but it still hurts.
Flaherty taking one for the team moved the go-ahead run into scoring position. Caleb Joseph batted next. He, too, was hitless on the day until he smoked a line drive single to center field. The ball went so fast that it almost didn't give J.J. Hardy time to score from second on the play. Hardy scored and then Manny Machado gave the O's a bigger cushion with a two-run double.
They needed every bit of that cushion. O's closer Zach Britton did what he does, getting ground balls like a champion. Sometimes those ground balls don't work out as well as others. Pinch hitter and former Oriole Danny Valencia led off with a single deep in the hole between shortstop and third base, and after Davis made the ill-advised decision to try to field a bouncer towards the second baseman, there was no one to cover first as Jose Reyes raced there. Sheesh.
When the tying run comes to the plate and there's nobody out, that's about as interesting as you can get - well, except for when regular Birdland villain Jose Bautista hits a single to bring the go-ahead run to the plate in the form of Edwin Encarnacion. Bautista's single came with one out and scored Valencia. Encarnacion was surely prepared to crank a walkoff and let his parrot out of the cage. We all want things. What he actually did is bounce into a game-ending double play.
The game was not pretty, but it was good enough to send a sellout Toronto crowd home unsatisfied. That's the same that could be said of the effort of Kevin Gausman, making his first start of the season. The numbers next to his name on the box score don't look so bad - two runs on four hits and a walk in five innings, but he also only struck out one batter and it took him 91 pitches to get through five. With two starters soon to return to the MLB roster, Gausman might be getting his next work in Norfolk.
The O's staked Gausman to a 1-0 lead before he even had to pitch. Machado led off the game with a double and Travis Snider added a single to put two men on with none out. Machado scored when Adam Jones bounced into a fielder's choice and Delmon Young ended the scoring chance and inning with a double play.
Toronto got the run right back. Reyes also led off with a double and a Josh Donaldson walk put two on with none out. They ended up getting a run on an Encarnacion sacrifice fly before the inning ended.
More wildness cost Gausman the next inning. Russell Martin was hit by a pitch on a check swing that wasn't ruled a swing. That was probably a load of crap where the first base umpire wasn't paying attention. That's life. Martin raced to third on a Dioner Navarro single, then scored when Gausman uncorked a wild pitch while Kevin Pillar was batting. Pillar reached on an infield single before Gausman nailed things down and retired the next three batters.
After their first inning run, O's batters went down in order in three of the next four innings against Jays starter Mark Buehrle, who ended up going seven innings, giving up two runs on six hits. The second run scored when Young hit a sacrifice fly after Jones was intentionally walked to load the bases. Young came to the plate four times in the game and saw a total of six pitches.
Gausman was followed by Chaz Roe and Brad Brach for an inning apiece. Compared to what happened to O'Day and Britton, Roe and Brach had drama-free pitching days. What followed after wasn't pretty, but it looks the same in the win-loss record as did Tuesday's blowout of the Phillies. Thank your lucky stars and move on to the next one, which will be a rubber game on Sunday afternoon.
With a three hit day including two doubles, Machado was a star for the O's. Snider also had three hits, though he didn't manage to drive in any runs even with Machado on ahead of him three times. Hey, you take what you can get. The Orioles were about six inches away from Navarro hitting a grand slam to break open the game and their hearts in the eighth inning. Within 30 minutes the O's were walking off the field with the game in the win column. They all count.
The scheduled starters for the 1:07 start time on Sunday are Chris Tillman for the O's and Scott Copeland for the Jays.