It was nearly a magical night in Toronto. The Orioles used Adley Rutschman’s first career homer and a pair of round-trippers from Ryan Mountcastle to overcome an early five-run deficit, but Vladimir Guerrero Jr. proved to be too much in extra innings. Guerrero bested Felix Bautista with a base hit after Baltimore left the go-ahead run 90-feet away in the tenth.
Toronto avoided the collapse and won the third game of the series 7-to-6. Guerrero finished 4-for-5 with the game-winner and three runs scored. Still, the night will be remembered for the long balls.
Adley Rutschman had hit some hard balls since he debuted last month, but tonight he hit the longest ball of his young career. Rutschman launched his first big league homer with a 411-foot blast to center field.
Rutschman jogged around the bases like he’d been there before. Trey Mancini met the rookie at the top step and gave him a genuine embrace. Mancini gifted Rutschman the Orioles’ home run chain, and Rutschman continued to sport the honorary necklace as he reapplied his shin guards for the next inning.
The knock carried its own set of oddities. The homer marked Rutschman’s first RBI after 20 games in the big leagues. It also secured Baltimore’s first hit of the game despite the fact that it came via a two-run shot in the fourth inning. Rutschman received a pair of RBIs after Austin Hays was hit by a pitch earlier in the inning.
The four-bagger did more than make for a fun memory. Rutschman sparked Baltimore’s offense after Toronto claimed an early five-run lead.
Rutschman kicked off the comeback, but Ryan Mountcastle carried the bulk of the load. Mountcastle launched an absolute moon shot to keep the Birds alive in the seventh. Cedric Mullins and Austin Hays used a pair of doubles to trim the deficit to two and bring Mountcastle back to the plate in the eighth. Mountcastle answered the call and launched a 413-foot dinger that evened the score at six.
Jorge López shut down Toronto in the ninth to force extras. Jorge Mateo bunted the go-ahead runner to third, but Ryan McKenna went down swinging and Mullins popped out to strand the extra-runner.
Toronto tagged Orioles’ starter Bruce Zimmerman for six runs in 4.2 innings. Zimmermann had struggled to keep the ball in the ballpark over his last six outings and Toronto had just the lineup to take advantage.
Alejandro Kirk drove in the first run with a two-out double, but Toronto got the big lumber out two innings later. Teoscar Hernández and Matt Chapman both hit no-doubt, two-run homers to break things open in the bottom of the third. Zimmermann settled down with a quick fourth inning, but Vlad Jr. sent a ball 115 MPH over the center field fence for the sixth run.
The Blue Jays brought the go-ahead run to third base after a Hernández single, stolen base, and fly ball to right, but Mountcastle made a tremendous catch in foul territory to end the inning. Mountcastle secured a pop up by Lourdes Gurriel Jr. that barely missed the protective netting above the wall. The Blue Jays had already used their challenge, but the play was upheld after a crew chief replay.
The Orioles had several impressive defensive plays on the night. Kyle Stowers stretched out his glove and caught a rocket by Kirk before running into the wall in left field. Tyler Nevin made a diving stop at third, and Rougned Odor recovered with a strong throw to second base after Baltimore allowed a fly ball to drop in shallow right field.
This loss feels like a textbook example of the narrative that has followed Baltimore this season. They are still a rebuilding club often overmatched in the American League East, but they do not roll over. This team has talent, this team has fight, but it does not have a player of Guerrero’s caliber quite yet. Still, it’s easy to see progress on the field.
Baltimore hopes that Rutschman can develop into that type of player. He added a double in the seventh and does appear to be turning a corner after a slow start at the plate. Zimmermann, on the other hand, has never looked worse during his time in Baltimore.
The Orioles do not have an immediate replacement for Zimmerman in the rotation, and the club will likely provide the lefty an opportunity to work out of this, but the deep flies are no longer a surprise after an impressive start to the season. Soft-tossing lefties need command, and the Maryland native is catching far too much of the plate right now.
Baltimore will have a chance to pick up a series split tomorrow afternoon. Tyler Wells will face former Oriole Kevin Gausman at 3:07 p.m.