Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis reacts after striking out in the fifth inning against Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Photo: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

1-hitter puts Baltimore Oriole bats back to sleep

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Coming into this series, two things were true. First, the Baltimore Orioles had nine games left against the Toronto Blue Jays, including six in September, and there was almost no margin for error. Secondly, even if the Jays swept at Rogers Centre this week, they would still be a game behind the Orioles in second place.

Something very simple is now true after the teams split the first two games. As a blogging friend of mine pointed out, the Orioles’ lead over the Jays is the same as it was two days ago, four games, and there are two fewer games left. That somewhat softens the blow of a frustrating loss on a 1-hitter by Toronto’s Drew Hutchison.

It does not, however, soften the fact that the Orioles, after their 9-run explosion Tuesday night, couldn’t stop themselves from swinging at anything, a trend that has produced a .215 team batting average since the All Star Break, next to last in baseball.

Hutchison retired 22 in a row after the Davis solo shot
They are 12-7 since the break because of a 2.93 team ERA, fourth best in baseball. The Jays are hitting . 299 as a team since the break, with Edwin Encarnacion still on a rehab assignment since coming off the DL in late July.

At this point, I’d better not leave out the other piece of good news: the Orioles’ only hit was Chris Davis‘ opposite-field home run. There, I mentioned it.

It was easy to sense trouble ahead when Jose Bautista homered off Wei-Yin Chen to give the Jays a 4-1 lead in the second inning. Chen was gone after the 5th, and Bautista hit a run-scoring double off T.J. McFarland in the 6th. Hutchison had still only allowed one hit, the Davis homer, and that’s where the Orioles’ production stood until he walked Nick Markakis in the 9th, after which he was removed. He’d retired 22 in a row since Davis’ solo shot.

All five Toronto runs came with two outs, a hallmark of Chen’s performances in general this season. Miguel Gonzalez opposes J.A. Happ in the series finale Thursday night.

 

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