First off let’s preface this by saying that one play or one part of a game doesn’t decide the outcome. There are always several parts of games to which one could in theory point that helped to decide who wins and who loses. In MLB as in all sports, the fine line between winning and losing can be very tight to walk, meaning that you have to take advantage of all opportunities to win games. That said, the issue that the Baltimore Orioles have had with coming through with runners in scoring position reared their ugly heads again in yesterday’s 4-3 loss in Toronto. Granted that Toronto only went 1-for-5 with RISP, but the O’s turned in a 2-for-11 share. Leaving that number of runners on base and in scoring position makes it tough to win games.
Chris Tillman looked like he had a few control issues early, but then rebounded. Tillman’s line: 8 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 5 K. Yes folks, that’s a complete game loss for Tillman. However aside from the loss itself, Tillman did the Orioles a huge “solid” in terms of pitching a complete game. The Birds used five relievers on Friday night (with Tommy Hunter ultimately getting the win), and Tillman’s effort yesterday ensured that the ‘pen will be rested going into this afternoon’s series finale.
The Orioles struck first with back-to-back doubles by Manny Machado and Chris Davis. However Toronto isn’t one to be outdone in their home park. They generally pounce when a team gives them a small opening, and it turns into something bigger. After a lead off double Toronto had Reyes at third with two outs, and Tillman issued a quasi-intentional walk to Adam Lind. Moises Sierra turned around and smacked a two-RBI double, which probably wouldn’t have scored two runs if not for the ball taking some severe bounces on the turf at Rogers Centre. But that’s life, and the Orioles trailed 2-1.
With two outs in the third Manny Machado homered to left, and the O’s were able to tie the game at two. Matt Wieters’ RBI-single in the fourth scored Nick Markakis, and the Orioles had a 3-2 lead. However back-to-back strikeouts in that inning stranded J.J. Hardy at third…one of the aforementioned missed opportunities. However again, it’s not one thing that decides a game. The Birds went 1-2-3 in the fifth (with two strikeouts), which is just as detrimental (albeit not as glaring). But the O’s again left two runners in scoring position in the sixth when Danny Valencia struck out to end the inning.
Again, Toronto pounces when they’re given a slight opening (not unlike the style of Tampa). Tillman issued a lead off walk to Moises Sierra in the last of the seventh, and Colby Rasmus hit his second homer in as many games against the Orioles to give Toronto a 4-3 lead and thus a 4-3 victory.
The question is whether or not this game will come back to haunt the Orioles. It certainly might, however not any more so than other losses over the course of the season. New York also lost yesterday, which means the Orioles didn’t lose any ground to them. Furthermore, the O’s can still win the series with a victory in tomorrow afternoon’s series finale. Miguel Gonzalez will head to the bump for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Toronto’s Mark Buehrle.