On a hot and humid Father’s Day afternoon at Camden Yards, Orioles starter Matt Harvey was showing plus velocity from the get-go — topping out at 97 mph on his four-seamer — with a crisp slider as well. It was a promising sign because the Orioles and Harvey desperately needed a good outing after his recent struggles.
Despite some drama in the first, the O’s right-hander left the mound with a scoreless frame under his belt. After recording the first two outs, Harvey loaded the bases on two singles and a walk before striking out Cavan Biggio on a slider with the count full.
Trey Mancini got the scoring started in the home half of the first, striking a line drive out of the park to straightaway center. 1-0, Baltimore. The O’s first baseman had been scuffling, entering play with a June OPS of .660 and just one home run in the month.
Harvey got another strikeout on the slider with a runner in scoring position to end the second. Then he put the Blue Jays down 1-2-3 in the third, with the final out coming on a stellar play by Pat Valaika, who backhanded a ground ball and fired across his body to nab Teoscar Hernandez at first. Harvey’s strikeout pattern continued in the fourth when he punched out Santiago Epinal with a runner on second to end that inning.
Things unraveled for the O’s in the fifth when the Jays scratched across four runs. Coming into the game, batters were hitting .441 against Harvey the third time through the order.
Toronto’s no. 9 hitter Reese McGuire led off with a double and reached third on a sacrifice fly before scoring on a single by Bo Bichette, who swiped second base for his 10th steal of the year. Harvey walked Vladimir Guerrero Jr., which prompted a mound visit from pitching coach Chris Holt. But Hernandez laced an RBI double into the left field corner on the first pitch he saw. Randal Grichuk followed with an RBI single to center, leaving runners at first and third with one out. Then Ryan Mountcastle made a sliding attempt on Biggio’s soft fly ball to shallow left center, resulting in an RBI single and the end of Matt Harvey’s day.
Manager Brandon Hyde summoned Adam Plukto — who began the day tied with Tyler Wells for most innings pitched by a Baltimore reliever (32.2) — from the bullpen. He struck out two batters, with a walk in between, to end the inning without additional damage. 4-1, Blue Jays.
Matt Harvey’s final pitching line was 4.1 innings, nine hits, four runs, two walks, and four strikeouts, including 84 pitches (55 strikes). It was the fewest runs he’s allowed since June 2, when Harvey tossed three innings of one-run ball against the Twins. Looking back even further, it was the first time since May 7 that Harvey pitched at least four innings and allowed four runs or less. Still, he’s got to be better than he was today.
Jays starter Hyun Jin Ryu had the O’s lineup under control this afternoon, allowing only three hits and one walk over seven innings of work. He struck out four batters and threw a total of 100 pitches, including 67 strikes. The only blemish on his day was Mancini’s solo home run in the first.
Reliever Adam Plutko was excellent today and saved the Orioles bullpen in the process, showing why Brandon Hyde has deployed him so frequently this season. After starter Matt Harvey left with one out in the fourth, Plutko pitched 2.2 scoreless, hitless innings with three strikeouts and one walk.
With Cesar Valdez on the bump for Baltimore in the eighth, the Jays tacked another couple runs onto their total. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. led off with a double to the left field corner and scored two batters later on McGuire’s RBI double to right. Then Bichette drove McGuire home on a single that fell in front of Mountcastle in left. 6-1, Blue Jays.
A couple of home runs in the bottom of the eighth brought the O’s within striking distance of the Jays. Pedro Severino started it off with a solo shot to left that got out in a hurry. The next batter, Pat Valaika, got hit by a pitch that ran high and tight, recalling memories of yesterday’s near brawl after a similar incident. But cooler heads prevailed this time and the game continued without incident. After Cedric Mullins struck out, Mancini capitalized with an opposite field two-run homer over the grounds crew’s dugout. 6-4, Blue Jays.
Toronto took the momentum right back in the top of the ninth by adding an insurance run off of reliever Dillon Tate. The inning started off with a single and a walk, then two outs later, McGuire slapped an RBI single to right. 7-4, Blue Jays.
Despite issuing a lead-off walk in the ninth to Anthony Santander, reliever Tyler Chatwood nailed down his first save of the season and sealed the win for Toronto.
With a series win having slipped through their fingers, the Orioles will shift their focus to the Houston Astros next. General manager Mike Elias’ former team comes to town tomorrow for the start of a three-game series at Camden Yards.