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Error and balk prove costly as Orioles lose 4-1 to Blue Jays

The O’s grabbed a lead in the first inning, but things went south after that. Alex Cobb could not work around an error and later balked in a run.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays Gerry Angus-USA TODAY Sports

Not much went right for the O’s today in Toronto. Their offense managed only one run, potential rallies were foiled by baserunning mistakes and strikeouts, an error allowed to three unearned runs, and the Blue Jays even scored on a balk. All this led to a 4-1 loss to Toronto, who has won the first two games of this series. It was the O’s ninth consecutive road loss and their eighth loss in nine games against the Jays this season.

Alex Cobb (2-13) started for Baltimore and his final line makes his performance look better than it was. He only allowed one earned run and lowered his ERA to 6.17, the lowest it has been all season. He allowed three unearned runs in the fourth inning because of a Tim Beckham error, but it was an errant throw to second by Cobb that caused said error. He did not minimize the damage after that. The lone earned run he did allow scored on a balk. Cobb ended up allowing four hits and three walks while striking out four.

Toronto’s starter Marcus Stroman (3-7) endured a shaky first inning and ended up pitching seven strong. He allowed five hits and two walks while striking out seven.

The O’s jumped out to a lead in the first inning. Tim Beckham led the game off with a single and Jonathan Schoop then blistered a Stroman offering off the left field wall. It was hit too hard, however, as Schoop was easily thrown out trying to stretch it to a double. Adam Jones delivered an opposite-field single to score Beckham and give Baltimore an early 1-0 lead. The rally was ended when Mark Trumbo bounced into a double play.

Cobb looked fantastic in the first inning, needing only eight pitches to retire the side in order. He worked around a two-out walk and single in the second. Cobb then retired the side in order in the third, but with a little help. With one out, Curtis Granderson tattooed a pitch, but right to Schoop who was playing in shallow right field. After Teoscar Hernandez worked the count to 3-1, home plate umpire Joe West called two very generous strikes to end the inning.

Stroman settled down after that rough first inning. He retired the side in order in the second and worked around a one out walk to Austin Wynns in the third. He afforded the Orioles a scoring opportunity in the fourth that strikeouts prevented them from taking advantage of. Jones led off the inning with a double, his second hit of the game. Trumbo struck out on three pitches, missing an opportunity to advance the runner to third. Chris Davis was hit by a pitch and with Trey Mancini at the plate, Jones advanced to third on a passed ball. Mancini could have plated a run by recording an out, but he struck out too. Renato Nunez grounded out to end the rally.

Because we’re talking about the 2018 O’s, Cobb’s meltdown occurred immediately after a missed scoring opportunity. Justin Smoak walked to lead off the bottom of the fourth. Yangervis Solarte dribbled a ground ball back to Cobb, whose throw to second base pulled Beckham off the bag. Smoak was initially called out, but was challenged and quickly overturned and Beckham was charged with an error because he fired to first before touching the bag. Everybody was safe. Randal Grichuk, who entered the game batting .400 against Baltimore this season, doubled to tie the game at one. Cobb then walked Kendrys Morales to load the bases with no outs. Toronto grabbed a 2-1 when Diaz grounded into a 5-4-3, which the O’s happily conceded. But the lead was extended to 3-1 when Maile bounced a seeing eye single up the middle. Cobb retired the next hitter but the lead was lost, despite all three runs being unearned.

Toronto grabbed another run the next inning. Teoscar Hernandez doubled with one out and moved to third with two outs. He took a huge lead because of an infield shift and that appeared to rattle Cobb. He stepped off the rubber after starting his motion and score was suddenly 4-1. That would be the end of the day for Cobb.

Stroman responded well after his team gave him the lead. He allowed a baserunner in each of the fifth and sixth innings but worked around them. In the seventh, his final inning, he retired the side in order.

Mike Wright Jr. took over for Cobb in the sixth inning. He retired the first two batters he faced and then allowed two singles. He was bailed out Joey Rickard, who gunned down the runner trying to advance to third on the second hit allowed. Despite allowing two hits, Wright’s fastball was hitting 96 mph and his ERA lowered to 4.75. Tanner Scott made his first appearance of the second half in the seventh and struck out the side. He looked especially dominant against the two lefties he faced.

Buck Showalter said before the game that he needed to pitch Zach Britton today, and that happened in the bottom of the eighth. Britton allowed only a lead off walk that was promptly eliminated with a double play. Renato Nunez, considered a subpar defender, started the twin killing with a sliding stop. Britton’s velocity was consistently at 95 and 96 mph.

Finally getting into the Jays’ bullpen didn’t help the O’s offense. Seunghwan Oh pitched a clean eighth inning and Ryan Tepera was called upon to earn his seventh save in the ninth. Grichuk robbed Trumbo of extra bases with a leaping catch to start the frame. He struck out Davis and Mancini to end the game.

The O’s will try to avoid getting swept tomorrow at 1:07. Andrew Cashner (2-9, 4.56) will return from the disabled list to make the start for Baltimore. J.A. Happ (10-6, 4.29) will start for Toronto.