As they might say on the streets, Toronto had been up in the grill of the Baltimore Orioles for some time. They seemed to just refuse to lose, often matching the Orioles on days they would actually drop games so as not to lose any ground. However it’s been some time since the O’s had the opportunity to face Toronto head-to-head, so as to control their own destiny vs. Toronto so to speak. They got their first crack at them last night…
…and luckily for them, Bud Norris owned his end of the deal. Norris’ line: 5.1 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 6 K. Again just to show that baseball is truly about results more than anything else and that perception can often times be off, one would tend to think that Norris was leaps and bounds better than Gausman on the previous night.Yet Gausman was credited with a quality start because he pitched longer into the game. But the only stat that really matters is that both pitchers and the team were credited with wins.
The Birds left a small army on base in the first two innings, including leaving the bases loaded in the first. However just as suddenly as they appeared on the previous night in our nation’s capital, we saw Oriole bats show up north of our borders. With the O’s already leading 1-0 on a J.J. Hardy RBI-double, Caleb Joseph hit his second homer in as many nights in the fourth. That was followed by an immediate Jonathan Schoop home run, and Delmon Young would add an RBI-single later in the inning and the O’s led 4-0.
Colby Rasmus would get some runs back for Toronto with a two-run homer, just in effect to remind the Orioles that this was a pennant race. However unfortunately for them someone forgot to remind Toronto of that as well. Chris Davis‘ bat got back on track with a solo homer of his own, in the sixth Nelson Cruz singled Manny Machado home to put the Orioles ahead 6-2.
Toronto did threaten to spoil the party in the seventh when they loaded the bases with nobody out. Tommy Hunter induced Jose Bautista into a sac fly-RBI, and he then pitching the Orioles into a tailor-made double-play which ended the inning. That ended up being the climactic moment of the night for the Birds, and possibly the anti-climactic moment for
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Toronto. It was sink or swim time – and the Orioles’ bullpen chose the former.
Just for good measure, the Orioles loaded the bases themselves in the top of the eighth. They got that surrendered run back on Nelson Cruz’s sac fly-RBI, however Adam Jones and Delmon Young also were both able to move into scoring position. J.J. Hardy singled both runners home, capping off the Orioles’ 9-3 victory north of the border. And for the record, this was a victory in which every player in the order had a base hit, and six of the nine batters had an RBI. Top to bottom, that’s as balanced as you’re going to get.
The O’s also blew through five different Toronto relievers, as starter Mark Buehrle only was able to go four innings. That bodes well for the O’s for the remaining two games this series. We also saw Andrew Miller allow a couple of base runners but ultimately get through the eighth inning. The trade for Miller might well be one of the more unsung aspects of this season. The bullpen was already solid, but the acquisition of Miller made them…whatever the next thing after solid is!
The series continues tonight from Rogers Centre with Wei-Yin Chen taking to the bump for the O’s. He’ll be opposed by Toronto’s Drew Hutchinson.