Hit parade helps Orioles take 3 of 4 over Blue Jays
TORONTO — Kevin Gausman is at a loss to explain why the Baltimore Orioles and other American League East teams are thriving against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Austin Hays and Adley Rutschman had RBI singles in the second inning and Baltimore downed the Blue Jays 6-1 on Thursday to win three of four in Toronto. The Blue Jays are now 2-8 against the Orioles and 8-23 versus all AL East opponents this year.
The latter stat is particularly concerning as Toronto heads to Boston for a three-game series on Friday. The Red Sox have won all seven of their games against the Blue Jays this season.
"If I had an answer for you, we probably wouldn't be in this situation," said Gausman. "Both (Baltimore and Boston) have a good amount of young guys that I think are O.K. with really diving into an approach and listening to a hitting coach and not trying to do too much.
"Maybe that's why? I don't know."
Gausman (8-6) had an uncharacteristically shaky start, giving up three runs on eight hits, all singles, striking out six over 4 1/3 innings. Bowden Francis, Genesis Cabrera and Thomas Hatch came on in relief as the Blue Jays allowed 15 hits.
"I wish I would have came out and pitch a little better and we split this series, but I didn't have it," said Gausman. "I was a little sporadic today, so I didn't really help myself to get in good counts."
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. supplied Toronto's (60-50) lone run with an RBI single in the sixth. The Blue Jays loaded the bases that inning but were unable to score any more runs after Guerrero's hit.
Hays drove in another run with a double in the ninth for Baltimore (67-42). Ryan Mountcastle and Adam Frazier added runs with sacrifice flies and Ryan McKenna scored another with a bunt.
"I think we match up well against anyone," said Toronto manager John Schneider. "You flush it, you move on, and you look forward to another important series against Boston starting tomorrow."
Jack Flaherty (8-6) allowed just one run on four hits, striking out eight over six innings. It was Flaherty's first start for the Orioles since being dealt from St. Louis ahead of last Tuesday's trade deadline.
Baltimore relievers Danny Coulombe, Yennier Cano and Mike Baumann combined for three scoreless innings.
In the second inning, Mountcastle reached on a single and advanced to second thanks to a hit from Frazier. Hays then plated Mountcastle with a single.
Ramon Urias drew a walk to load the bases but Gausman fanned McKenna for his second out of the inning. Rustchman then singled to score Frazier, with outfielder Daulton Varsho gunning down Hays at home.
Gausman again loaded the bases in the fourth, giving up singles to Mountcastle and Hays before walking Urias. But he struck out McKenna and induced a Rutschman groundout to escape the inning unscathed.
"They're in first place and so they're playing pretty free," said Gausman of the Orioles. "I just think they have a good approach. Not necessarily trying to hit a three-run home run. They're fine with just kind of passing the baton to the next guy and, you know, it works."
The right-hander got into trouble again in the next inning, giving up a leadoff hit to Gunnar Henderson. Anthony Santander struck out but Ryan O'Hearn singled to end Gausman's relatively short outing.
Mountcastle then hit a sacrifice fly off of Francis, with Henderson's run being put on Gausman's scoreline as Baltimore took a 3-0 lead.
Guerrero chipped away at Baltimore's lead in the sixth with a bloop single down the first-base line. Kevin Kiermaier scored on the hit with Whit Merrifield advancing to third.
George Springer walked to load the bases for Toronto with one out but Matt Chapman struck out and Alejandro Kirk flew out to end the threat.
McKenna tacked another run in the eighth with a bunt down the third-base line. Chapman fielded the ball and wheeled around to try to get Hays at third, but no one backed him up at the base.
He then threw to first to try to get McKenna but the ball flew past Guerrero, allowing Hays to score for a 4-1 lead.
The Orioles piled on in the ninth inning. Frazier drove in O'Hearn with a sacrifice fly and Hays doubled to score Mountcastle and make it 6-1.
KOCHMAN HONOURED — A moment of silence was observed to honour longtime Blue Jays photographer Chuck Kochman who died on Wednesday. He had captured some of the biggest moments in team history on film, working with the Blue Jays from 1988 to 2017.
ON DECK — Alek Manoah (2-8) will start on Friday as the Blue Jays begin a three-game series in Boston.
James Paxton (6-2) of Richmond, B.C., is scheduled to pitch for the Red Sox.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 3, 2023.