It only took the Orioles being embarrassed in the first game of a doubleheader, and the Blue Jays playing a lineup full of nobodies in the second game, for the Orioles to finally get a win against the Jays. The Toronto team that decided there was no point in contesting the nightcap fell to the O's, 8-1, in the nightcap.
All of the games count in the standings, of course. This one will even count for Toronto, which is in a dogfight for the top spot in the American League with the Royals. You would think they might not want to punt even the second game of a doubleheader after clinching the division. Punt is what they did. They effectively waved the white flag and said there was no interest for them in winning the game.
How bad were the Jays punting this game? They sent out a lineup that had precisely zero of their regular position players. Starting pitcher R.A. Dickey was pulled from the game after only five innings of work despite having mowed down the Orioles in only 58 pitches. O's hitters had only two hits off of Dickey. If he stayed in the game they might well have continued on that pace. Instead, they got to face the relievers nobody cares about in the Jays bullpen.
Once the bullpen was into the game, the O's did what they do best - well, when they're succeeding, anyway. They hit a bunch of home runs. Manny Machado and Chris Davis led off the seventh inning with back-to-back home runs against Ryan Tepera. That was the 31st homer of the year for Machado and the 44th for Davis. That home run by Davis pulled him ahead for sole possession of the lead in all of MLB once more. He leads former teammate Nelson Cruz by one.
After Tepera came Liam Hendriks, who fared little better. Hendriks faced three Orioles and retired none of them, although at least he can say he didn't give up any home runs. The next reliever, Aaron Loup, also did not allow any home runs, although he did let all three inherited runners score. J.J. Hardy drove in a run with a single. Nolan Reimold hit a double to plate two more. After seven innings, the Orioles had a 5-0 lead.
Facing the dregs of the Jays active roster, Kevin Gausman did what you are supposed to do. He dominated, racking up a career high 10 strikeouts while holding the Jays to five hits over eight innings of work. The game was always in control. He did not walk anyone. Even when he gave up a two out home run to Darwin Barney in the eighth inning, he followed up by retiring the next Jays hitter on an easy grounder. It was easily the best start of his big league career. Sure, he wasn't facing big league hitters, but who's counting?
In the eighth inning, the Jays tried again with another reliever, Steve Delabar. The night went no better for him than any of his reliever companions. Davis welcomed Delabar into the game with a monster center field shot, #45 of the year. After Jonathan Schoop hit a double, Matt Wieters got in on the home run party as well, driving in both to give the O's the 8-1 lead that proved to be the final score in the game.
The first Davis homer of the night was the 200th of his big league career. Wieters' home run was the 100th of his career. In both cases, you have to wonder if tonight we saw the last Orioles home run from those guys.
Davis, Wieters, Schoop, and Steve Pearce all had two hits apiece as part of an 11 hit O's effort. Ryan Flaherty and Gerardo Parra were the only Orioles starters not to record a hit.
After Gausman's eighth inning, Mychal Givens followed with a bit of a wild ninth. He walked two batters over his inning of work, but thanks to the Orioles having a seven run lead it was never much of a danger. The game ended. The Jays were probably glad it did so they could go fully celebrate their earlier clinching of the division.
For the Orioles, a win is a win. Their very meager hopes of finishing the season with a .500 record remain alive, although at this point the Orioles need to win every remaining game. Thanks to Hurricane Joaquin's impending arrival, which has already caused the O's to move up tomorrow's game to an unusual 12:05pm start time, it's no sure thing they will even play all four remaining games, let alone actually win them.
Adam Jones did not appear in either of the games in the doubleheader. MASN's broadcast duo of Gary Thorne and Mike Bordick strongly hinted that Jones is unlikely to appear in the remainder of the season's games, except perhaps in an abbreviated pinch hitting capacity.
The O's get to match up against David Price in that game tomorrow afternoon. Well, good luck. Tyler Wilson takes the mound for the O's in the game. Good luck with that to all involved Orioles.