You know how suffering a blowout loss can tend to ruin a team’s morale or send them spiraling into a little funk?
Yeah...not these Orioles.
The O’s bounced back from Monday’s lopsided defeat with a well-played, hard-fought, 6-5 victory that snapped their seven-game losing streak to the Blue Jays. The O’s proved once again that they don’t let big losses linger; the Orioles are now a perfect 5-0 this season in games immediately following a loss of eight runs or more.
You never know what to expect from baseball, huh? The Orioles tonight ran out a lineup that was so lacking in quality hitters — with Trey Mancini, Anthony Santander, and Ramon Urias all out for various reasons — that it featured Ryan McKenna in the #6 slot. Not ideal. And yet that lousy-on-paper batting order managed to tally six runs by the sixth inning and chase starter Yusei Kikuchi in the fifth.
The O’s, after putting three runners aboard in the first two innings but coming up empty, broke into the runs column in the third. With a man on, Ryan Mountcastle blasted a two-run homer to right field, his 10th, making him the second Oriole (after Santander) to reach double digits in home runs this season.
The Orioles added another in the fourth. With McKenna at first and two down, Robinson Chirinos lofted a lazy fly ball to left field. The ball was in the air for a good long while, long enough that someone definitely should have caught it. But left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. seemed like he was running in quicksand, unable to motor over before the ball dropped safely inside the left-field line. McKenna raced home while Chirinos ended up with an RBI double on a ball that had a hit probability of one percent. One percent! Hey, I’ll take it.
But every time the Orioles scored, the Blue Jays came roaring back. In both the third and fourth, Jordan Lyles had a...what’s the opposite of shutdown inning? A start-up inning? The O’s starter ran into all sorts of trouble in the third, loading the bases on a pair of singles and a walk. Bo Bichette followed with a tapper to third, but Tyler Nevin’s only play was to first, allowing the Jays’ first run to cross. A scary hit-by-pitch of Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s hand — he stayed in the game after a long visit from the trainer — reloaded the bases before Lyles escaped on a strikeout. An inning later, there was no such escape. Matt Chapman crushed a game-tying, two-run homer over the left-field wall, knotting the score at three.
It took only two pitches into the fifth, though, for the Orioles to regain the lead. Austin Hays deposited an 0-1 offering from Kikuchi 415 feet to center field. And that was the end of the night for the veteran left-hander, who slogged through a laborious effort that featured four innings, four runs, four walks, four strikeouts, and...five hits. Way to ruin the pattern, Yusei.
Trevor Richards provided little relief. Mountcastle, who’d already laced two extra-base hits against Kikuchi, continued his tear with a scorched double off the new hurler. A pair of POFOs (Productive Outs For Orioles) followed — an Adley Rutschman grounder that advanced Mountcastle to third, and a Nevin sac fly that plated him — to make it a 5-3 game.
The Orioles stole another run in the sixth...and I do mean “stole,” as Jorge Mateo wreaked such havoc on the basepaths that he forced the Jays into a costly brain cramp. First, Richards made the mistake of granting Mateo a leadoff walk, after which the speedster promptly swiped second.
Then, on a 3-2 pitch to Richie Martin, Mateo took off for third. Martin swung and missed at a ball that bounced in the dirt. Catcher Gabriel Moreno was so concerned about trying to throw out Mateo — at which he was unsuccessful — that he failed to tag Martin or throw to first to complete the strikeout. That gave the O’s a gift baserunner, and Cedric Mullins followed with an RBI single to bring home Mateo. The Orioles led, 6-3.
This time, the lead held, but not for lack of trying by the Blue Jays. Lyles kept them off the board in the fifth before things got dicey again in the sixth. Gurriel led off with a double and went to third when a Lyles pitch sailed to the backstop. The O’s very nearly stranded the runner — with Lyles striking out Raimel Tapia, and Felix Bautista doing the same to Chapman — before Moreno poked an RBI single to make it a 6-4 game.
That was the first of several stressful innings in a row for the Orioles bullpen. Dillon Tate got two quick outs in the seventh before Guerrero and Teoscar Hernandez roped back-to-back singles to put the tying run on base. But Tate buckled down and fanned Gurriel on a nasty changeup to escape.
In the eighth, the Jays inched ever closer. Pinch-hitter Santiago Espinal greeted Cionel Perez with a leadoff double, and after a gasp-inducingly loooong flyout from Chapman, Moreno poked another RBI single to cut the Orioles’ lead to one.
Brandon Hyde wasn’t taking any more chances. He pulled Perez and summoned Jorge Lopez to get the final five outs of the game, as if to say, “This losing streak to the Blue Jays ends now, dang it.” (He would probably use more choice words than “dang it,” but this is a family web site.)
Friends, I’m happy to tell you that Jorge Lopez was sensational tonight. He retired the final two batters of the eighth to strand the tying run at first, then returned for the ninth with a fire in his belly. Lopez got some help from an unbelievable defensive play by Mateo at short, turning a certain leadoff infield hit into a huge out with a running, barehanded gem.
A potential jam averted, Lopez retired Guerrero on a grounder and blew a 3-2 sinker past Hernandez to put this one in the books. Great win! And the perfect way to bounce back from a resounding defeat the previous night.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for Tuesday, June 14?
This poll is closed
Jorge Lopez (retired all five batters he faced for ninth save)
Jorge Mateo (wreaked havoc on the bases, brilliant defensive play in ninth)
Ryan Mountcastle (3-for-5, home run, two doubles)