Orioles 5 at Blue Jays 4
The brooms were put away in this series finale as the Blue Jays were unable to complete the comeback and sweep away the Orioles by tennis match-like scores of 6-3, 6-3, 6-5*.
Alek Manoah battled through a long first inning and, as it often happens, he righted the ship to provide the Blue Jays a quality start. Manoah walked four Orioles but none of them caused damage. And even when the Orioles made contact today, they were mostly harmless fly balls (he got 12 outs in the air, striking out five).
The first inning saw him walk his fellow 2019 first-day draftees Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson, sandwiched by a leaping catch at the wall by Teoscar Hernandez, robbing Anthony Santander of a double. That was one of the few loud outs this game for Manoah.
The Blue Jays were quiet in the first and stranded two runners in the second. The third started off scary, then became good, then ended badly—very quickly. Dean Kremer hit George Springer in his left (“healthy”) elbow and Springer was in obvious pain, taking a long moment before going to first base. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. doubled him to third, and then Bo Bichette singled him in to give the Jays a 1-0 lead with runners on first and second. But then, on the very first pitch, Matt Chapman lined a ball directly into the glove of shortstop Jorge Mateo who threw to second to get Vladdy, then to first to nab Bo, who was running on the play.
The Orioles answered straight away with Mateo driving in Terrin Valvra with a slicing double towards the line, barely fair. But, Danny Jansen answered as well, homering in the 4th inning to make it 2-1 Toronto. Manoah cruised through the last two innings without giving up a hit. After stranding three runners in the fifth and sixth, the Blue Jays extended their lead on a Guerrero homer that scraped into the Jays’ left field bullpen. However, the Orioles again returned the Jays’ call right away with Jesus Aguilar slamming a solo shot against Adam Cimber.
Clinging onto a 3-2 lead, the lights flashed red in the Rogers Centre signalling the entry of closer Jordan Romano. In retrospect, the red lights should have been interpreted as a warning sign, especially with Romano not looking sharp on Saturday. Facing pinch hitters Kyle Stowers and Ramon Urias to start the inning, he gave up two sharp singles and walked leadoff hitter Cedric Mullins after falling behind 3-0.
Rutschman then singled home the two pinch hitters to left-centre to put them in front 4-3. After a hard-struck double play by Santander, John Schneider called for an intentional walk to rookie Henderson to bring up Aguilar. Aguilar hit a liner to right-field, but right fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. was able to nab Gunnar Henderson at third base, but not before Mullins scored to give Baltimore a two-run lead. The takeaway was that every thing hit off of Romano today was drilled.
That insurance run proved to be important for the O’s because in the bottom of the ninth, with two outs, pinch hitter Cavan Biggio worked a walk against Orioles closer Felix Bautista, then Springer hit one to the centre field wall to double in Biggio. Guerrero walked but the Bichette bounced out to end the game, 5-3.
Jays of the Day: Manoah (+.224 WPA), Vladdy (.208), Jansen (.131).
Suckage: Romano (-.760), Chapman (-.197, still deserved even he can’t be fully blamed for the triple play), Espinal (-.104).
Tomorrow, the Jays have a much needed off day after 11 games in 10 days (and 18 in 17 going back a further off-day) before taking one last brief jaunt out of the division for a two game set in Philadelphia starting at 6:45 EDT on Tuesday.
*Yes, we know that’s not how tennis works. But if Bichette had walked it off with a homer it would’ve been 7-5.