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The Baltimore Orioles are off to a surprising 3-1 start under first-year Manager Brandon Hyde.
2019 projects to be the first year of a major rebuild under the on-field guidance of Hyde and the front office mastery of Mike Elias and company. The Birds are off to a great start after picking up a series opening 6-5 win against the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday night, snapping a 10-game losing streak at Rogers Centre.
This win came fresh off the heels of taking two of three over the vaunted New York Yankees in the Bronx this past weekend.
TORONTO — After the Orioles traded Manny Machado to the Dodgers on Wednesday, fans and baseball pundits alike knew that the already dreadful 2018 Orioles season would not get any better. That proved to be the case this weekend in Toronto, as the Orioles opened up the “second half” by getting swept by the Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre.
Following Sunday’s series finale, the Blue Jays own a 9-1 record against the Orioles this season. The Orioles, now 28-71, have lost 10 straight on the road. With the Royals already taking two from the Twins this weekend, the Orioles again have the worst record in the majors, over 40 games behind the Red Sox in the American League East.
Game 1 (8-7 TOR – 10 INN): The Orioles’ “second half” opener saw the Birds overcome a 7-2 deficit to send the game into extras, but Aledmys Diaz‘s walk-off single in the 10th inning off Paul Fry won it for the Blue Jays.
Dylan Bundy struggled again in his third start since coming off the 10-day disabled list with an ankle ailment. Bundy’s five innings on Friday night marked his longest outing since returning to the rotation, but he gave up five runs for the third time in those recent starts.
Diaz opened up the scoring in the second inning with his ninth home run of the season to give the Blue Jays a 1-0 lead. In the fifth inning, Toronto plated four runs to chase Bundy out of the game. Russell Martin and Randal Grichuk went back-to-back with solo home runs to make it 3-0. After Diaz grounded out, Devon Travis walked and advanced to third on a ground-rule double by Curtis Granderson. Travis then scored on a Teoscar Hernandez sacrifice fly, followed by Grandson crossing home on a double by Justin Smoak.
Before Toronto plated four runs in the bottom of the fifth, the top of the inning featured a two-run home run by Tim Beckham, scoring Renato Nuñez. Nuñez, who made his Orioles debut on Friday, started at third base and went 1-for-4 at the plate. After being designated for assignment in April from the Texas Rangers, the Orioles picked up Nuñez one May 13 and sent him to Triple-A Norfolk. In 201 at-bats, Nuñez hit .289 with 58 hits, 23 walks, and five home runs with the Tides.
After Bundy’s exit, Jhan Martiñez, also making his Orioles debut, pitched the sixth inning and posted a strikeout. He threw 18 pitches, 11 for strikes. Martiñez is in his ninth professional season. He previously pitched in the big leagues for the Marlins, White Sox, Rays, Brewers, Pirates. and Rangers. Prior to his call-up, Martiñez held a 2.78 ERA in 45.1 innings at Norfolk this season.
Mychal Givens followed Martiñez for the seventh inning. Toronto added two runs before Givens recorded the first out. Diaz led off with a single, then Travis belted a triple on a line drive to Danny Valencia in right field, scoring Diaz. Next, Granderson singled, also to Valencia, to bring home Travis. Givens would then retire the side, but the two runs allowed marked the first runs given up by Givens since June 30, where he allowed four runs in a 6-2 loss to the Angels at Camden Yards.
After Blue Jays starter Sam Gaviglio limited the O’s to two runs in the first seven innings. things began to unravel in the eighth. With two outs, Chris Davis smacked his 10th home run of the season to right-center field, also scoring Adam Jones, who had singled with one out. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons pulled Gaviglio after the Davis homer, ending the right-hander’s longest start of both the season and his two-year MLB career. Gaviglio threw 103 pitches, 71 for strikes, allowing seven hits and a walk with eight strikeouts, also a season and career high.
Leading 7-4 in the ninth inning, Tyler Clippard looked to land his seventh save of the season. The Orioles offense had other plans. Trey Mancini led off with a double and scored on a wild pitch that sailed feet over Martin’s glove, and even the umpire’s head. Two of the next four batters Clippard faced – Caleb Joseph and Jonathan Schoop – belted solo home runs to tie the game at seven. It marked Joseph’s second of the season and Schoop’s 11th.
Gibbons pulled Clippard after Schoop’s homer. Ryan Tepera came on and struck out Jones to end the inning. The Blue Jays got two runners in scoring position in the bottom of the ninth but did not score, sending the game into extras.
After John Axford retired the Orioles in order, Fry came back out for the Orioles’ 10th inning after recording the last out of the ninth. The Orioles got the first two outs of the frame with a Yangervis Solarte ground-out a strikeout from Kendrys Morales, but then Martin singled and Grichuk walked. The bitter end came when Diaz singled to Mancini in left field to score Martin and walk it off for the Blue Jays.
The loss marks the first of Fry’s young career. The 25-year-old left-hander is now 0-1 with a 1.80 ERA in 10 innings pitched. Axford’s effort in the 10th inning awarded him his third win of the season.
Game 2 (4-1 TOR): After the Orioles notched three hits off Marcus Stroman in the first inning, the offense hit a wall. Two of those three hits (Beckham and Jones) resulted in Baltimore’s lone run of the afternoon. Over the final eight innings, the Blue Jays limited the O’s to three hits, two walks, and nine strikeouts. Stroman went seven innings for his third win of the season. He is now 3-7 overall.
Two of Alex Cobb‘s first three innings saw the veteran retire the Blue Jays in order, but he unraveled in the fourth as Toronto scored three runs.
Smoak got the inning started with a walk. Solarte hit a grounder to Cobb, who fielded the ball and threw it to Beckham at second base. However, when Beckham received the ball, he took his foot off the bag too quickly, resulting in both Smoak and Solarte being safe. Then the Blue Jays got on the board when Grichuk doubled on a line drive to Joey Rickard in right field, scoring Smoak and advancing Solarte to third. Cobb then walked Morales, who would become the first out of a double play on a ground ball to third base hit by Diaz. However, Solarte scored and Grichuk still reached third on the play.
The third and final run of the inning came shortly thereafter, as Luke Maile singled to center-field, allowing Grichuk to score. In the fifth inning, Hernandez doubled to right field and eventually scored from third on a balk by Cobb. Cobb began his windup but abruptly stepped behind the rubber with his right foot, resulting in home-plate umpire Joe West making the balk call.
Cobb exited after the fifth inning, receiving his MLB-worst 13th loss of the season (2-13 overall). He went five innings, allowing four runs on four hits, three walks, and four strikeouts.
According to manager Buck Showalter, Cobb could have come back out for the sixth inning, but the Orioles decided to pull him, citing a blood blister on his throwing hand. It’s the second time this season that Cobb has been pulled early due to a blister on his right hand. Apparently, Cobb has dealt with these blisters in previous seasons, and said that he’ll be fine by his next start on Thursday night.
The rest of the game was pretty uneventful. The Orioles only got two base-runners on over the final two innings. After Cobb, Mike Wright Jr., Tanner Scott, and Zach Britton each worked an inning of relief. Scott racked up three strikeouts.
Game 3 (5-4 TOR): After the Orioles struck out eight times over the first four innings, the offense got things going in the later innings, taking a 4-1 lead into the bottom of the eighth inning. After Solarte’s fourth-inning double off Andrew Cashner gave Toronto a 1-0 lead, the O’s scored four unanswered runs from a Jace Peterson RBI single (fifth inning), Schoop’s 12th home run of the season (sixth inning), an RBI double by Nunez (eighth inning), and Mancini reaching on a fielding error (eighth inning).
As we’ve seen far too often this season, the Orioles extended a lead late only for the bullpen to implode. Between Brad Brach and Scott, the bullpen allowed Toronto to plate four eighth inning runs for their third come-from-behind win of the series.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. led off with a single to right field, but was forced out in the ensuing at-bat that allowed Granderson to take Gurriel’s place at first base. Then Grichuk hit his 13th home run of the season to cut Baltimore’s lead to 4-3. Smoak followed that with a single to third and was replaced by Travis, who came on to pinch-run. Travis would advance to second on a Morales ground-out before Showalter replaced Brach with Scott. Scott would then lose the ballgame when the first batter he faced, Solarte, hit his 17th home run of the season to left-center to give Toronto the go-ahead run.
Aside from Beckham reaching base in the ninth after being hit by a pitch, Clippard got through the inning without any further damage. With a strikeout, Clippard picked up his seventh save of the season. Axford, despite allowing the two Oriole runs in the eighth, received the win.
Up next: The Orioles return to Camden Yards for their first home-stand following the All-Star break. Monday through Thursday, the O’s will host the first-place Red Sox for three games all beginning at 7:05 pm. Then the Rays come to town for a four-game series. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday’s games begin at 7:05 pm, followed by a 1:05 pm start on Sunday.
Weather could cause some trouble this week in Baltimore. There’s a 90% chance of rain/storms on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday night, and a 50% chance of rain/storms during the day on Thursday, but the evening looks clear.
Image Credit: Baltimore Sun