It was a predictable outcome for the Orioles at Rogers Centre as the lineup was largely dominated by Robbie Ray, and the team’s bullpen fell apart behind starter Chris Ellis in a 7-3 loss to the Blue Jays on Monday night.
Let’s talk about the positives.
Ellis did a nice job on the bump. He needed 69 pitches to record 14 outs, most of which were rather easy. The third inning brought about a minor jam with runners on second and third with two outs, but he enticed a ground ball to end the threat. His lone run came in the fourth inning on a Vladimir Guerrero Jr. long ball. And then he was lifted in the middle of the fifth inning once Toronto turned the lineup over for a second time.
It’s tough to have many complaints about Ellis. He featured a fastball that sat around 94 mph most of the night, showed off a decent slider, and had a good feel for his curveball. This Blue Jays lineup is no joke, and he navigated it admirably. The 28-year-old righty earned himself another start, and might just stick in the rotation through the season’s final month.
Ryan Mountcastle was the other obvious bright spot for the O’s. He homered for the 25th time this season, and later added an RBI single and scored a run as he was directly involved in all three of his team’s runs. The former first-round pick’s OPS is up to .819, and his quest for the Rookie of the Year award is strengthened further.
Not much else was working for the Baltimore bats in this one until the game was already out of reach. More on that a little later.
The real travesty was the bullpen. Brandon Hyde turned to three relievers, and two of them were quite bad.
Dillon Tate was the first to trot in from the ‘pen, tasked with wrapping up the fifth inning after Ellis was lifted with Jarrod Dyson standing on first base. After a few pitches, Tate picked off Dyson and then joined the run down in which he would be the one to slap the tag on Dyson at the end of an all out sprint. It was an impressive effort.
Beautiful open-field tackle from Dillon Tate.— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) August 31, 2021
It came crumbling down from there. Tate began the sixth inning with the Orioles ahead 2-1. He would leave it trailing 4-2. He served up three runs on three hits and a walk in the sixth inning before being replaced by Marcos Diplán before he could get the third out.
Diplán did manage to clean up Tate’s mess with a fielder’s choice at the plate and a groundout. But then he needed a savior of his own in the seventh inning, walking two runners in front of Guerrero Jr. That’s never a good idea. The slugger did what sluggers do, and he sent a breaking ball into the seats for a three-run bomb to put the home team up 7-2.
The bullpen did finish the game on a positive as Conner Greene looked good again, tossing 1.1 scoreless innings while striking out one. Maybe the Dodgers fixed him during his brief time in that organization.
As bad as the Orioles’ lineup was against Ray, they did breakthrough a bit against the Blue Jays’ relievers in the ninth inning.
Trailing by five runs, Mountcastle (of course) led off with a walk on eight pitches. Anthony Santander singled with one out to put a runner in scoring position for Pedro Severino, who then brought Mountcastle home with a base knock of his own. Things were looking promising, but then Ramón Urías flew out and pinch hitter Cedric Mullins struck out to put a point on the four-run loss.
We’re gonna stay glass-half-full on this one. Ellis did a nice job, and Mountcastle stayed white hot at the plate. For a game in which the team’s best player sat out most of the night and the other team started a Cy Young candidate, that feels like decent time at the park for this squad.
These two teams will play again on Tuesday night. It’s a match-up of southpaws as Keegan Akin (1-8, 7.26 ERA) looks to maintain some momentum from his most recent start. He will be opposed by Hyun Jin Ryu (12-7, 3.88 ERA). First pitch is 7:07.