I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Manny Machado is no longer manning the left side of the infield for the Orioles. While Baltimore didn’t necessarily miss his bat this evening, they sure could have used his glove.
With two outs and two on in the bottom of the tenth inning, Aledmys Diaz bounced a groundball in between shortstop and third base. Machado played both of those positions for the Orioles, and boy could they have used him at either one tonight. The ball bounced off of new Oriole Renato Nunez’s glove, trickled through to hit Tim Beckham’s mitt, and eventually made its way past both players. Russell Martin scored from second, and the Orioles’ five-run rally had been wasted.
Diaz was credited with a single, but the play could have been made. Instead, the Orioles dropped their first game after the All Star break, 8-7, and reminded fans exactly how the first half of the season felt.
Trailing 7-2, the Orioles began their comeback in the top of the eighth inning. Adam Jones reached on a bloop single to center, and Chris Davis reminded fans there’s still a hint of power left in his bat. Davis homered to right to trim the lead to 7-4, but the Orioles went down in order after that. At the time, the blast felt more like a meaningless stat pad as opposed to the start of a comeback.
The Orioles surprised everybody with a rally in the ninth. Trey Mancini doubled and moved up to third on a throwing error. Blue Jays closer Tyler Clippard tossed a wild pitch well above the plate that allowed Mancini to trot home with ease and trim the lead to two.
Caleb Joseph cut the lead to one with the Orioles’ third home run of the night, and suddenly the Orioles were a swing away from a tie game.
Hours earlier, Jonathan Schoop talked about how he cried the day his best friend was traded away from the club. He put those emotions aside and tied the game with a line drive home run that managed to stay inside the left field foul pole. All of a sudden, it was a brand new ball game.
The Blue Jays nearly won the game in the bottom of the ninth. Diaz double to start the frame, and he advanced on a fielders choice by Martin. After Miguel Castro intentionally walked Granderson, he struck out Teoscar Hernandez. Buck Showalter summoned Paul Fry, who struck out Justin Smoak to end the threat. Fry stayed out for the tenth inning, and nearly escaped before the wheels fell off.
The Orioles briefly held momentum in the game after taking the lead in the fifth inning. In his Orioles debut, Nunez doubled to deep left field with one out. After Joseph struck out swinging, Tim Beckham drove a first pitch slider well over the center field fence.
For a brief moment, the blast provided some good vibes. Beckham had delivered in his first game at short in the post-Machado period, and the Orioles held a lead with their best pitcher on the mound. The good vibes did not last long.
There are shutdown innings, and then there are what Dylan Bundy had in the bottom of the fifth. After Beckham gave the Birds a 2-1 lead, Bundy did not waste any time giving it back.
Russell “Muscle” Martin blasted the first pitch of the inning over the left field fence to knot the game at two. Martin appeared to be sitting dead red, and drove the elevated fastball 392 feet from home plate.
Randal Grichuk stepped up after Martin and proceeded to hit a ball even farther. Grichuk took a 1-1 fastball and turned it into a 3-2 game. Grichuk’s solo shot traveled 414 feet, and Bundy had relinquished the lead as quickly as possible.
The home runs were the 21st and 22nd round-trippers that Bundy has surrendered this year. He’s had several potential quality starts derailed by the long ball, and this trend appears likely to last through 2018.
Bundy then walked Devon Travis, and Travis was forced to stop at third when Curtis Granderson bounce a ground-rule double over the left-center field fence. Teoscar Hernandez drove in Travis with a sacrifice fly, and Justin Smoak extended the lead to three with a double to right field.
Toronto added a pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the seventh that surprisingly meant something. Diaz led off with a single and came all the way around to score on a Travis triple to right field. Granderson drove in Travis with a single to right, and the Blue Jays held a five-run lead.
After a pair of scoreless innings to start the game, Toronto struck first in the third. Diaz pulled a low slider and muscled it over the left field wall to break the scoreless tie.
Sam Gaviglio was on pace to pick up his first win since May 30, but sometimes baseball isn’t fair. Gaviglio allowed four runs on seven hits in 7.2 innings pitched. He struck out eight Baltimore batters and only walked one.
Bundy dodged a loss that would have been his 10th of the season. A few more starts like this should all but ensure the club does not trade him before July 31. There’s no reason to sell low on Bundy or Gausman this year, but that’s a conversation for another day. Fry took the loss and John Axford won the game in relief.
There’s a joke to be made about Zach Britton being warm in the bullpen during a walk-off loss in Toronto. I’m not going to make it. Protecting Britton from injury or lowering his trade value should be the Orioles’ number one priority. Fry got to pitch in a high leverage situation, and Nunez will certainly learn from tonight’s game. It’s a good thing that the second half of the season isn’t about winning, because this loss would really sting.