Baltimore’s troubles followed them right to the edge of the U.S.-Canada border. As the Blue Jays continue to play their home games this season in Buffalo, that’s where the O’s losing streak was extended to six games with tonight’s loss.
The Orioles had a chance to strike early against Blue Jays’ starter Anthony Kay. Trey Mancini and Ryan Mountcastle got back-to-back singles after Cedric Mullins struck out, but then Austin Hays and Anthony Santander went down on strikes to give Kay three K’s in an inning of work.
The Blue Jays, on the other hand, were able to capitalize on a golden opportunity in their first crack at Dean Kremer.
What a rough start for the Orioles’ young right-hander, who could not find the strike zone in the bottom of the first. He surrendered walks to Marcus Semien, Bo Bichette, and Vladimir Guerreo Jr. And we all know nothing good happens after a leadoff walk, let alone three consecutive walks.
Toronto’s cleanup hitter Teoscar Hernandez took advantage of the situation, lining a single into left field to drive in the Blue Jays’ first run. They got their second run on a ground out to Pat Valaika at second, who made a diving stop to his left and hopped to his feet to throw out Oriole killer Randal Grichuk. Cavan Biggio followed with a walk, and then the big blow came — a grand slam off the bat of Lourdes Gurriel Jr. The wildness didn’t end there, as Kremer issued a free pass to Joe Panik. It was his fifth walk of the inning.
At that point, manager Brandon Hyde had seen enough and elected to bring Adam Plutko on with one out in the inning. The O’s most often used reliever, according to innings pitched, recorded a fly ball out and a strikeout to bring the carnage to a close.
Here’s Kremer’s final pitching line: 0.1 innings, two hits, five walks, and six earned runs, including a grand slam. He threw 39 pitches, including 17 strikes, and saw his ERA rise from 6.20 to 7.25.
Baltimore had a bases-loaded opportunity of their own in the top of the second with two outs and Trey Mancini at the plate. But he went down swinging to become the sixth strikeout victim of Anthony Kay.
Guerrero Jr. continued his MVP campaign in the bottom of the second with a mammoth solo home run, his 24th of the year, to bring the Jays’ run tally to seven. And the hits kept coming. With two outs in the third, Toronto registered three base knocks in a row — single, double, double — bringing the score to 9-0.
Adam Plutko exited after the third, having pitched 2.2 innings. He allowed five hits and three runs, including one home run, while striking out two. He was replaced by Travis Lakins Sr.
The Blue Jays tested Cedric Mullins’ arm in the fourth and they paid the price. With one out and Randal Grichuk on first, Cavan Biggio lofted a deep fly ball to the edge of the warning track in straightaway center. Mullins played it perfectly, getting behind the ball so that when it landed in his glove, his momentum was taking him towards the infield. He unleashed a one-hop strike to second base, and it wasn’t even close, with Valaika applying the tag on Grichuk easily to complete an inning-ending double play.
As it tends to happen in baseball, the guy who made an excellent play to end the prior inning was the first to bat in the following frame. In this case, Mullins followed his defensive gem with an opposite-field single down the line in left. Get that man into the All-Star game! Unfortunately, he was stranded on base in the fifth.
Toronto starter Anthony Kay finished with eight strikeouts, five hits, two walks, and zero runs allowed over five innings.
The O’s came oh so close to getting a run in the seventh, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Pedro Severino started the inning off with a double and moved to third on a ground out, but Valaika struck out and Mancini hit a tailing fly ball out down the line in right.
If you’re looking for a silver lining to an otherwise depressing game, Travis Lakins Sr. looked really good. He pitched a career-high four scoreless innings out of the Orioles’ bullpen to minimize the strain of Dean Kremer’s early exit on the pitching staff. Lakins Sr. only allowed one hit and struck out three Blue Jays, lowering his ERA from 6.85 to 5.81 in the process.
Paul Fry came on to pitch the bottom of the eighth for the O’s, and he worked around a pair of singles for a scoreless inning. But the Orioles went quietly in the top of the ninth, with Severino striking out and then consecutive ground outs from Valaika and Mullins.
That’s the second blowout loss in a row for the Orioles, not to mention, the second shutout in a row.
Tomorrow’s matchup features Matt Harvey versus Alek Manoah, so we’ll see if there’s any leftover animosity from the last time the Blue Jays rookie faced the O’s and incited a bench-clearing incident after plunking Maikel Franco.