A lot has changed for the Orioles since they won seven games in a row a few weeks ago. At the time, the streak put the O’s on the edge of a wildcard spot but things would come crashing down quickly after a couple rough losses to the Yankees and a sweep against a red-hot Cleveland club.
A bounce back series was needed to say the least but the Orioles could not find it. The results have been devastating for the O’s playoff hopes as well. Despite salvaging win in the series finale the Orioles are still at least four games behind the second wild card spot with just sixteen left to play.
All three games in this series were decided by one run but the Orioles came up short in two of them. In game one the Blue Jays took an early 2-0 lead thanks to a pair of RBI’s by Ryan Goins and Richard Urena.
The Orioles started a potential comeback in the fourth when Adam Jones brought Manny Machado home with an RBI single. However, Toronto was able to get that run right back in the bottom half of the inning. Goins came through again, this time with a solo homer to make it a 3-1 game.
This would happen again in the fifth and sixth innings as Mark Trumbo’s solo home run was erased by a Darwin Barney RBI single. After Ubaldo Jimenez exited the game it looked like the Orioles might be able to craft a comeback but Miguel Castro could not keep the Jays off the board either. Barney’s single marks the fourth run surrendered by Castro in his last three appearances.
The pitching may have been unreliable but looking back on this game you cannot ignore the two defensive mistakes by the O’s outfield. Mark Trumbo lost a routine fly ball in the lights that resulted in a double and Adam Jones made a throwing error that allowed a runner to advance in that same inning. These defensive mistakes hold even more weight in one run games and were definitely a contributing factor in the 4-3 loss.
With a chance to bounce back in game two the Orioles offense was nowhere to be found. The silver lining was a quality pitching performance by Dylan Bundy. The Orioles young starter tossed six strong innings while giving up just one run. Bundy also struck out eight in his start but was still arguably out-dueled by Joe Biagini.
Making his second start of the year against the O’s, Biagini was extremely efficient with his pitch count. The 27-year-old pitcher made it through eight innings and gave up just two runs. The only knock against Biagini was when he surrendered the lead to Tim Beckham in his final inning of the night. Facing Biagini for the fourth time in the game, Beckham was able to finally make him pay by launching a solo homer to take a 2-1 lead. However, this mistake would not matter in hindsight because Toronto was able to walk it off in the ninth.
Zach Britton entered the game to try to close out a one run win but he would end up blowing his second save of the year. Kevin pillar started the inning with a walk and Teoscar Hernandez followed with a single. Britton was able to get an out on a fielder’s choice but Pillar would come around to tie the game on an infield single.
Britton clearly did not have his best stuff but was still just one double play away from extending the game. Unfortunately the Orioles closer could not fool the Jays batters with his sinker and gave up the game winning hit to Urena.
The Orioles faced a very similar scenario in Wednesday’s series finale. Siting 4.5 games out of a wildcard spot, the O’s desperately needed to win the last game of this series. They managed to push two runs across in the first inning when Adam Jones doubled and Trey Mancini tripled but were shut down from here. Luckily, Kevin Gausman matched Dylan Bundy’s performance from the night before and held the Jays to just one run through seven innings of work.
Going into the bottom of the ninth the Orioles held the same 2-1 lead they had about 24 hours prior. Surprisingly Buck Showalter called upon Britton to close out the last inning again. This move is interesting not only because Britton blew the save on Tuesday but he also racked up a pitch count of 21 process.
The O’s closer was able to retire Jose Bautista to start the inning but gave up a single to the next batter, Kendrys Morales. With Pillar coming up to bat things were starting to look even more similar to the night before but this time Britton was able to get the crucial double play ball to end the game.
The Orioles will stay on the road this weekend with a four game series against the New York Yankees. The scenario has not changed since these teams last met earlier this month but the stakes are much higher for the O’s. Winning at least three games is going to be necessary if the Orioles want to have any chance at a postseason appearance.
Image Credit: Associated Press