That was a long, weird one. There was a significant rain delay between the middle of the sixth. That wasn’t great, but on the positive side the rain delay coverage allowed us to watch Bianca Andreescu gut out an upset over 11 seed Daria Kasatkina at the Canadian Open in spite of an illness (what exactly wasn’t clear) that was literally bringing her to her knees between points and then, in the most Canadian gesture imaginable, apologize to the crowd for not having a positive enough attitude in her win. If I’m honest, it was more entertaining than the baseball has been in the first couple games of this series.
Once again the offence (outside Bo and Kirk) struggled to string hits together against bad pitching, while the starter and the bullpen were both too inconsistent to get it done. The hot streak that bracketed the All Star break is officially over, and the Jays’ lead over the other wildcard teams might be down to one depending on how the Mariners-Yankees game goes (it’s scoreless in the fifth as of this writing).
The Blue Jays offence is very good, so it’s been annoying the last little while to see them get rolled by mediocre pitching. Kyle Bradish, who entered tonight with a 6.55 ERA, almost did it again tonight. He sat Lourdes Gurriel jr, Vladimir Guerrero jr, and Alejandro Kirk down in order in the first. The second was better, with an opposite field Bo Bichette homer putting Toronto on the board and Whit Merrifield working a walk, but a strikeout by Matt Chapman and groundouts by Raimel Tapia and Cavan Biggio kept them from doing any more. They weren’t able to continue the charge in the third, as a Santiago Espinal leadoff single was wiped out by a Gurriel double play grounder and Guerrero popped out on the first pitch. The fourth and fifth brought more of the same, with a Kirk single in the former and a Biggo walk in the latter both getting stranded at first.
Finally, in the sixth, the Jays got something going. Vlad reached on a one out single, then advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on a Kirk line single. Kirk himself moved to second on a throwing error by Roughned Odor. That finally drove Bradish from the game. Bryan Baker took over and immediately walked Chapman, setting up the second Bo-bomb of the night, this time a go-ahead 3 run oppo shot that made it 5-3. Baker got Tapia and Merrifield to end it there.
After the delay, Louis Head came in to handle the top of the seventh. Gurriel reached on catcher’s interference, but that was it for the Jays. Coming back for the eighth, Head gave up back to back singles to Kirk and Chapman, popped Bichette up, and was removed in favour of Nick Vespi. Vespi struck Tapia out. At this point, Teoscar Hernandez was brought in to pinch hit for Bradley Zimmer (who’d been inserted defensively for Merrifield after the delay). He also struck out, and Jackie Bradley jr. replaced him to play centre for the final two innings. (So that’s why they signed him).
With Baltimore having taken the lead in the bottom of the eighth, Felix Bautista came in to close it our for the second night in a row. Biggio hit one hard into the gap, but it hung up and Mullins was able to get there to make the catch. Espinal reached on a high bouncer to second and advanced to scoring position on an Odor throwing error. Gurriel was blown away on three pitches, bringing Vlad to the plate with two out and the tying run in scoring position. Vlad hit a line drive, but right at Odor who caught it to end the game.
It was generally a weird game in the bottom halves of innings. Alek Manoah wasn’t in firm control of his stuff, starting the game off by walking leadoff man Cederic Mullins on four pitches and falling behind number two Adley Rutschman before giving up a bloop single. He had some bad luck with Anthony Santander, who looped a soft fly to centre that was innitially ruled caught by Merrifield. That would have resulted in a triple play as the Baltimore base runners advanced and were tagged out. Instead, on review, it was ruled that the ball landed in front of Merrifield’s glove. Personally, I think that’s most likely the correct call, but they’re not supposed to overturn without definitive evidence and there definitely wasn’t any. Either way, one fanbase was going to be mad, and either would have had a case. Anyway, that loaded the bases with none out. Ryan Mountcastle grounded into a double play to drive one run in and move Rutschman to third, and Terrin Vavra blooped another soft single over the infield to make it 2-0. Manoah rallied to strike Austin Hays out.
After a mostly uneventful second (with the only base runner coming when Manoah booted a Ramon Urias tapper, the third brought more struggles, but also some good luck that helped limit the damage. After a leadoff groundout, Manoah spiked a slider that hit Santander in the foot. A Mountcastle ground rule double put runners on second and third. At this point, Manoah threw a pitch in the dirt that was initially called a regular ball and bounced past Kirk, allowing Santander to score. On review, it actually hit Vavra in the foot, but he also swung, rendering it a strike and dead ball and sending Santander back to third. Vavra managed a sac fly on the next pitch, so the run scored anyway, but if either the wild pitch stood or Vavra hadn’t gone around, the situation would have been worse. Manoah then K’d Hays to end the inning at 3-1.
The fourth brought some more good luck, as Odor got himself hung up trying to get from first to third on a single. That saved a run, as Manoah allowed one more single in the inning before ending it with a ground out and a strikout. There was finally an uneventful inning in the fifth, as a leadoff single was stranded by a couple soft flies and a groundout. That was it for Manoah. He only threw 77 pitches, but most of them were in some kind of high pressure situation and he never looked comfortable on a brutally hot night, so the decision to pull him an inning early rather than an inning late made sense. It wasn’t a good performance, but as he often does on nights when he doesn’t quite have it Manoah managed to battle and keep it within range, so credit for that where it’s due.
Zach Pop was warmed up to come into the game, but after the rain delay it was Anthony Bass who ended up handling the bottom of the sixth. He had an easy inning, sitting the O’s down in order.
The Orioles drew closer in the bottom of the seventh. Rutschman worked a walk off Adam Cimber and scored on a Mountcastle double. Gurriel made a very nice running catch on the foul line to preserve the lead and end the inning there.
The eight belonged to Yimi Garcia, and it didn’t go great. Hays lead off with a bloop single, bringing Odor to the plate as the go-ahead run. He blasted a home run to right to give Baltimore the lead, 6-5.
Jay of the Day: Bichette (0.356), Kirk (0.196)
Suckage: Manoah (-0.109), Garcia (-0.539), Gurriel (-0.245)
Game three will pit Jose Berrios against Dean Kremer as the Jays desperately try to avoid a sweep. It gets going at 7:05ET tomorrow night.