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Orioles gain a game on the Blue Jays as Buehrle leaves early

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Orioles 9 @ Blue Jays 3

Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time in what seems like decades, the second place Blue Jays started a meaningful series at home against the first place Orioles--a sweep of the series would've put Toronto within one game of recapturing the lead position of the American League East. Unfortunately for the Jays, the best they could do in this series is to gain one came on the Orioles after they fell 9-3 in a game that featured poor pitching and insufficient clutch hitting.

Mark Buehrle followed his bounce-back win against the Red Sox last Wednesday with another terrible start to begin a series. Buehrle lasted only four innings, throwing 96 pitches in that span. The Orioles only managed to score four runs on him despite his giving up 10 hits and three walks. The Orioles had already scored a run in the third, but it was really the fourth inning that deflated the crowd of 36,183. Caleb Joseph and Jonathan Schoop hit back-to-back homers to lead off the inning, then three more singles scored another run to give the orange birds a 4-0 lead. Oh, and on top of that, Brett Lawrie--who just returned to the field after six weeks away--was taken out of the game in the fourth because of back tightness.

The feeling of doom and gloom was briefly interrupted by a Colby Rasmus two-run shot to the right field bullpen to answer right back in the bottom of the fourth. I say "briefly" because the Orioles also answered right back when a struggling Chris Davis took reliever Aaron Sanchez deep to make the game 5-2 in the very next half-inning around three strikeouts.

Sanchez had his first struggles since his callup in the sixth inning, when he walked two (his first two free bases in his major league career), leading to a run on a Nelson Cruz single, which snuck by Jose Reyes's limited range at short. Sanchez did induce two groundballs that could've led to double plays (one was fielded on a high bounce by Danny Valencia), but aggressive slides by Nick Markakis and Adam Jones turned them into fielder's choices. I don't generally include PITCHf/x data into game recaps but home plate umpire Jeff Kellogg had a particularly bad call when Sanchez was facing J.J. Hardy in that inning:

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via www.brooksbaseball.net

Despite the poor results, we saw some remarkable movement in his fastballs, which sat around 97 mph and touched 99 mph. The 47 pitches he threw was by far the highest count he has recorded since his conversion to a reliever.

Offensively, the Blue Jays had 12 hits and four walks but failed at a few chances to strike back at the Orioles: Toronto had two on and nobody out in the fifth and scored none, they had the bases loaded in the seventh and managed only one run on a Jose Bautista sacrifice fly, and left two walks on the bases in the eighth. Deflating.

Toronto got a clean seventh from Brett Cecil, but Dustin McGowan followed by allowing three runs on two walks and two hits to give Baltimore a commanding 9-3 lead, diminishing any hopes of a comeback or a sweep.

Jays of the Day! Melky Cabrera (+.147 WPA), Jose Reyes (+.133) went 3-for-4 with a walk, and I will also give one to Colby Rasmus (+.071) for his two run shot despite leaving three runners on in the rest of the game.

Suckage Jays: Jose Bautista (-.251) on his t-shirt day, Mark Buehrle (-.189), Dioner Navarro (-.154), Aaron Sanchez (-.095), and I will also give one to Dustin McGowan (-.061), who had a terrible outing when the game was kind of already out of hand.

According to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet, Brett Lawrie will be getting an MRI on his back tomorrow although neither he nor the team think it is "serious". The Blue Jays will be looking to snap their four-game losing streak tomorrow night as they face a pretty good lefty in Wei-Yin Chen.

Late Addition

Oh man, I have to add this quote from Mark Buehrle (hat tip to Andrew Stoeten):

But hey, remember when the Jays swept the Tigers and the A's?