BALTIMORE — The Orioles entered this weekend’s series against Toronto with a seven-game winning streak. They were quickly humbled by the visiting Blue Jays and had to scrap their way to a split. Following their two walk-off wins this weekend, the Orioles are now 12-2 on the year in extra-inning contests.
The four-game series started on Thursday with a high-scoring affair. The O’s held an early 5-2 lead after the first three innings, but would end up falling to the explosive Toronto lineup.
Toronto made their comeback in the fifth inning by tagging Jeremy Hellickson for five runs. The O’s starter was pitching pretty well up until that point. He ended up being chased with just two outs recorded in the fifth.
The bullpen did not fare any better. Richard Bleier and Mychal Givens entered the game in relief. They surrendered four combined runs in just over three innings of work. The Blue Jays held off the Orioles in the final innings to secure the 11-8 win.
Friday was a completely different story. Both teams struggled to produce any sort of offense and played 12 innings of scoreless baseball. The game was far from boring. After the surplus of runs on Thursday, it was refreshing to see two pitching staffs at the top of their game.
When the contest reached the late and innings, the intensity turned up another level. With less room for error, both teams shined defensively and came through with some game-saving plays. In the top of the ninth, Jonathan Schoop cut Kevin Pillar down at the plate to save a run. Toronto right-fielder Teoscar Hernandez followed that up in the bottom half of the inning by robbing Welington Castillo of a walk-off hit.
The biggest play of the night occurred in the 13th inning. With two outs and a runner on second, Steve Pearce hit a rocket to left field. The ball looked like it was going to fly over Trey Mancini’s head, but the Orioles’ rookie brought the crowd to their feet with a stellar diving catch. Mancini’s flashy grab kept the Blue Jays scoreless and set up an O’s walk-off in the bottom half of the inning.
Manny Machado led the 13th off with an infield single. This would was the only base runner necessary for Baltimore as Schoop followed with a double into the right field gap. Machado got a great read on the ball and hustled his way around the bases without any hesitation. The game-winning hit marked RBI number 101 for Schoop in 2017.
The extra-inning win looked like it could be a big momentum shift in the series, but the Blue Jays came right back on Saturday. Toronto put up seven runs in game three between the fifth and eighth innings to secure another win. Once again, most of the Blue Jays’ runs were attributed to the O’s bullpen. Recent call up Richard Rodriguez struggled in his Orioles debut, giving up four runs in one inning of work.
Facing a tough series loss, the Orioles had to dig deep and pull out a win in Sunday’s finale in order to salvage a split. The game ended up being a micro chasm of the weekend with both teams trading runs leading up to an extra-inning finish.
A three-run homer by Josh Donaldson put the Jays up early, but the O’s tied the game by the sixth inning. A pair of solo homers by Castillo and Mark Trumbo started the comeback. Mancini brought in the tying run on a sacrifice fly. Toronto regained the lead in the seventh when Michael Saunders picked up an RBI infield single. The Orioles tied it once again in the ninth.
Castillo got the job done by leading off the inning with his second solo shot of the game. The Orioles had a chance to win in the ninth when they got a couple more runners on-base but they got stranded.
The Orioles received the best of the Blue Jays in extra innings thanks to some more clutch hitting by Schoop. The O’s second baseman put himself in scoring position by leading off the inning with a double. For a minute, it looked like he would be stranded as Adam Jones and Mancini quickly failed to get on, but then the Blue Jays made a costly mistake.
For some reason, the Blue Jays decided to intentionally walk Davis, bringing Trumbo to the plate. Trumbo was already 2-for-5 with a home run coming into that at-bat, so the decision was a little confusing. Hindsight will not help the Blue Jays either as Trumbo hit a walk-off single to left field.
The Orioles finish up this home stand with another American League East series this week. The New York Yankees will be in town for the first time since the beginning of June.
The stakes are even higher this time around. The Yankees currently hold one of the AL Wildcard spots that the Orioles are chasing in this final month of the season.
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