The power eruption the Blue Jays unleashed in Sunday’s series finale in Cincinnati and the opener against the Orioles on Tuesday, went back into hiding at Camden Yards in Baltimore on Wednesday.
After hitting seven home runs in their previous two games — both wins — the Jays could muster only five singles as the O’s pulled away late for a 7-0 victory, setting the table for Thursday’s rubber match.
No one expects the Jays to be homer-happy every night, but on a night when starter Kevin Gausman summoned a decent outing, the lack of offensive support doomed his night.
Gausman kept the Jays in the game, leaving after six innings, allowing two earned runs and striking out eight. What kept the Jays in the game was Gausman’s ability to record outs when the bases were either loaded or when there was plenty of traffic on the basepaths.
Baltimore’s inability to hit with runners in scoring position early on was something of an anomaly. The O’s (78-48), for the most part, have been very good in such scenarios, a big reason why they sport a better record than their bird brethren, the Jays (70-57).
Through three innings, Baltimore went 1-for-7. Had the Orioles been more efficient, a 1-0 lead could have easily turned into a 4-0 advantage.
The Orioles did turn it into a laugher in the eighth, scoring five runs off the normally reliable Trevor Richards.
The big bomber for Baltimore was Anthony Santander, who made his return to the lineup following a bout with back pain. He went deep twice — early off Gausman and late against Richards.
Defensively, the Jays weren’t sharp, either, to the point of being comical. They committed a trio of errors, two in the first three innings, though neither of those gaffes — fielding misplays by Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (his second in three games), and second baseman Whit Merrifield — resulted in an Orioles run.
As a whole, the game didn’t have the same raw drama that unfolded on Tuesday. In fact, compared to the series opener, the second game was a complete buzz-kill.
The Jays, however, did not lose any ground to the Seattle Mariners in their AL wild-card pursuit. The red-hot M’s also lost, 5-4, to the lowly Chicago White Sox in 10 innings earlier in the afternoon. The Jays remain one full game behind Seattle for the third and final playoff berth.
Brandon Belt’s two-run homer in 10th inning lifts Jays to vital win over AL-leading Orioles
LONGLEY: With wild times ahead are inconsistent Blue Jays ready to make a run?
When Brandon Belt went deep on the first pitch in the 10th inning Tuesday, it marked his sixth homer during the month of August.
Half of those long balls came in his previous two games heading into Wednesday, a power surge that began in Cincinnati on Sunday when he went yard twice.
Daulton Varsho also recorded a homer in Toronto’s 6-3 win over the O’s, his fourth in August.
Guerrero still has hit only one homer for the month.
BO’S STREAK UP TO 10
Bo Bichette singled in the first inning, extending his current hit streak to 10 games. His longest hit streak this season is 13 games.
Bichette would get robbed of another hit in the top of the sixth when the term hot corner lived up to its name courtesy of O’s third baseman Ramon Urias, who dove to his left to spear the drive, quickly got to his feet and threw out the Jays’ base-runner by a step.
DEAN OF PITCHING
Dean Kremer took the bump for the Orioles when scheduled starter Jack Flaherty was scratched.
Flaherty, acquired from St. Louis, made quite the impression in his Baltimore debut when he outduelled Gausman in Toronto earlier this month.
In his two subsequent starts, the veteran righty struggled and Flaherty told reporters in Baltimore that he didn’t feel right in the wake of his most recent appearance.
Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said Flaherty was dealing with general soreness.
Either way, Kremer got the start, his third against the Jays. The right-hander went six shutout innings, allowing only the five singles, striking out five and not walking anyone, improving his record to 12-5.
When Baltimore visited Toronto in May, Kremer allowed one run and nine hits in 5.1 innings as the O’s completed a three-game sweep of the Blue Jays in an 8-3 win. He also picked up the win last month when the Jays were in Baltimore.
Toronto’s left-handed bats accounted for five of the team’s six runs Tuesday. The team was too right-centric last season and off-season moves were made to give the lineup more balance. Belt and Varsho each knocked in two runs, while Kevin Kiermaier knocked in one … Belt’s game-winner was off right-hander Mike Baumann, who lost for the first time in 10 decisions. On Wednesday, Baltimore optioned Baumann to triple-A Norfolk, while activating RHP Austin Voth (right elbow discomfort) from the 60-day injured list … Belt’s 10th-inning home run marked the first time in Blue Jays history a player led off an inning with a two-run blast, an esoteric factoid only a true baseball junkie would appreciate. The whole idea of beginning the 10th inning with a runner at second base was hatched during the 2020 COVID season and became a permanent rule change this season.