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Orioles lose series opener to Blue Jays, 4-3

The Orioles wasted a few high-leverage moments and ultimately lost the game.

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
The Birds of the East opened a three-game set tonight in Baltimore. Mike Wright, hoping to improve upon his last start, faced Marcus Stroman, who was also looking to smooth out a bumpy start to the year.

The teams traded zeroes in the first inning, but Wright got into trouble in the second inning. The leadoff batter Edwin Encarnacion singled to start things off, and after Troy Tulowitzki flew out to center, Justin Smoak and Russell Martin worked back-to-back walks. With the bases loaded, Ryan Goins slapped a hard bouncer down the first base line. Chris Davis was playing wall off the line but made a great diving stop to his right to stop the ball from going further. Encarnacion scored to make it 1-0 Jays, but without Davis’ great play another run would’ve scored. Goins was out, and Wright struck out Kevin Pillar to complete the inning.

The Jays widened their lead in the next inning. With Michael Saunders and Jose Bautista on the corners, Tulowitzki punched a 2-1 pitch into left field. Joey Rickard ran hard after it and dove for the catch. But he missed and the ball skittered away to the fence. Both runners scored and it was 3-0 Jays.

The 4th inning almost did Stroman in. Rickard grounded out to second base, but Manny launched a solo shot over the left-center wall to make it 3-1 Jays. Adam Jones slapped a hard single over the mound an into center, and Chris Davis flew out. Mark Trumbo then had a great at-bat, working Stroman for eight pitches before walking on the ninth. Matt Wieters had a six-pitch at-bat before singling into short right field. Goins ran hard to his left, gloved the ball, and made a great throw to the Toronto first baseman, but it wasn’t enough. First-base umpire Tony Randazzo called Wieters safe, and safe he remained despite a challenge from John Gibbons.

The bases were loaded for J.J. Hardy, who has been smacking the ball all over the place this season. Unfortunately he couldn’t come through in this high-leverage spot, popping out to second base.

The 5th and 6th innings were uneventful for either side. A Bautista double off Tyler Wilson in the 7th pushed the Jays’ lead to 4-1, but the O’s stormed back in the bottom half. After Trumbo singled, Wieters launched his first home run of the year onto the flag court to close the gap to 4-3.

Grumpy Gibbons asked the umpires to review where the ball landed; they obliged, only to tell him it was indeed a dinger. Jim Hunter noted it was the first game where Marcus Stroman allowed multiple home runs. Of course it was the Orioles that did it to him.

Wilson pitched through the 8th and then against Brett Cecil in the bottom half, the Orioles choked away another good opportunity. Machado doubled with one out and then Nolan Reimold, who’d entered the game because Adam Jones left with a stomach virus, worked a phantom walk. (I say phantom walk because the last two balls were actually strikes.)

Davis was up next and I’m sure visions of dingers flashed in everyone’s mind. It was the highest-leverage spot in the game so far. Unfortunately he swung and popped out on the first pitch. Jays closer Roberto Osuna came in and got Mark Trumbo to do the same. Dang.

In the 9th, Wieters provided a little drama when an errant attempt to catch Ezequiel Carrera stealing skipped into center field, allowing Carrera to reach third base with two outs and Bautista at the plate. Bautista flew out to left field to end the threat. Wieters led off the bottom half but he, J.J. Hardy, and Pedro Alvarez could do nothing against Jays closer Roberto Osuna. Game over.

The loss drops the Orioles to 8-4 while the Jays move to 8-7. The series continues tomorrow night when R.A. Dickey takes the mound against Ubaldo Jimenez.