Tuesday night at Rogers Centre, the Orioles had a singular goal to stop a five-game losing streak or their Wild Card hopes would continue to slip away for good. Ironically, the desperate times in 2017 were taking place in the same place – Toronto, on the shores of Lake Ontario – where the 2016 season came to a heartbreaking end.
Dylan Bundy, on extended rest which has been good for him this year, pitched against the Blue Jays Joe Biagini. Starting the game, the O’s first two hitters Tim Beckham and Manny Machado, each grounded out to the pitcher, 1-3. The hope at the time was that wasn’t a sign of things to come.
Bundy on the edge; Biagini dealing
In the bottom of the first, Toronto shortstop Richard Urena singled to start the inning, and then three straight Jays were retired, including Jose Bautista. In the second, Kendrys Morales led off with a double, his first hit ever against Bundy, but the righty got Kevin Pillar to ground out, and struck out Teoscar Hernandez and Ryan Goins. Two innings with leadoff hits for Toronto, but no runs.
The trend continued in the third. Catcher Luke Maile singled to start the inning, and two deep fly outs later there were two outs. At this point, Bundy’s luck ran out. All-Star Justin Smoak doubled to right off Joey Rickard’s glove as he smashed into the Dairy Queen sign on the wall, scoring Maile. For Smoak, it was his 86th RBI. Jose Bautista, barely hitting above the Mendoza Line which is nice to see, struck out to end the frame, but it was 1-0 Toronto.
In the fourth, Bundy continued to live dangerously. Kendrys Morales and Kevin Pillar both hit rockets off Dylan that Adam Jones chased down – quite a change from Sunday’s dropped popup in Cleveland, he was back to Gold Glove form – and Teoscar Hernandez was retired on an A+ scoop by Chris Davis on the throw from Manny. The O’s defense was on-point. At least they had that going for them.
Biagini cruised through the sixth getting three outs on seven pitches. He’d thrown 61 on the night, retired the last six O’s in a row and yielded zero runs. In the bottom of the inning, Bundy ran into trouble. Josh Donaldson opened things with a broken bat single to center, the Jays fifth of the game – another lead off knock! – and Smoak walked. Jose Bautista followed with a strikeout, even more fun to see than his first two outs, and there was one down. Kendrys Morales struck out on an off-speed pitch, the eighth of the night for Bundy, and Pillar popped to Schoop to end things.
O’s offense breaks through
Through six, it was 1-0 Toronto and a familiar question lingered. Where was the O’s offense? Fortunately, it showed up in the seventh inning. Trey Mancini doubled with one out, the O’s first runner to second base all night, Chris Davis struck out and Mark Trumbo delivered a soft line drive single to center scoring the University of Notre Dame product, Trey Mancini. Caleb Joseph ended the inning with a pop out, but the game was tied 1-1.
Mychal Givens replaced Bundy in the bottom of the seventh, sending them down in order on 11 pitches. Bundy received a no-decision going six innings, giving up one run, five hits and striking out eight. It wasn’t always pretty, but he got the job done again.
For the first time as a starter in his career, Joe Biagini made it to the eighth inning. Congratulations. Pedro Alvarez – fresh off a season in Norfolk – pinch hit for Joey Rickard and grounded out into the shift. The Jays bullpen hadn’t moved all night, but that was about to change. Tim Beckham followed with his ninth homerun as an Oriole, this one to left center, and the O’s had a 2-1 lead. The offense was alive. It’s alive!
Six outs to ending the losing streak
Brad Brach came on for the Birds in the eighth. Richard Urena promptly smoked a ball down the left field line, but Trey Mancini fielded it and made a terrific throw to Jonathan Schoop to nail Urena. It was Mancini’s fourth outfield assist of the season and he has proven to be anything but a liability in left.
Josh Donaldson walked, Justin Smoak singled to left and with two on Roger McDowell came out for a visit. It was up to the 0-3 Jose Bautista. On a 3-1 pitch, Bautista popped out to Caleb Joseph just in front of home plate. Bautista was a beautiful 0-4 and it was curtains for Brach with two outs in the inning. Enter Zach Britton.
Buck Showalter and John Russell bobbed and weaved in the dugout as Britton sinkered his way to a strikeout of Kendrys Morales. Eighth inning over.
In the ninth, Jones and Mancini were retired, as was Chris Davis. The score was 2-1 and Zach Britton’s game to close. Kevin Pillar started the bottom of the inning with a five-pitch walk. The leadoff man was on base in a one run game. Teoscar Hernandez followed with a single on a perfect hit and run and there were runners on the corners with no outs.
With the infield in, former Chicago Cubs infielder Darwin Barney pinch hit and hit into a 4-6 force out. Pillar didn’t go home. Two were still on with one out. Next, Luke Maile singled off Machado’s glove and the game was tied. It was Britton’s second blown save in 2017. Richard Urena followed with a line drive single to center that scored Barney and the game was over. The Orioles were in the loss column, 3-2, for the sixth straight game. It was also their third one-run defeat in a row.
The Birds are 3-9 since their seven-game winning streak and 3-8 in September, following a winning August. Not a good night in Toronto.
Notes and Wednesday’s game
Welington Castillo did not start Tuesday after his injury Monday. Caleb Joseph was behind the plate instead.
Craig Gentry was activated from the disabled list in advance of first pitch.
Entering the game, Tim Beckham had six hits in his last 40 at bats, for a .150 average. Tuesday, Beckham went 2-4 with a homerun. He is hitting .288 overall.
The appearance by Mychal Givens was number 65 on the season. He leads the O’s in that category.
The Orioles have gone 13 straight games without the starter getting a win. That’s not good.
In 2017, Baltimore has had 65 starts of five innings or less. That’s not good.
Buck Martinez broadcast the game on television for Toronto. From 2003-2009, Martinez called O’s games on MASN.
Toronto’s Joe Biagini has not won a game since June. But, he pitched well Tuesday going eight innings, giving up two runs on six hits.
Wednesday before heading to New York, the Orioles play Toronto again at 7:07ET. Kevin Gausman (10-10, 4.99) faces Marcus Stroman (11-7, 3.18).