Series Sum-up: Blue Jays vs. Orioles

By: Emily (@JaysGirlEmily)

Canadian Baseball NetworkGame 1: Tuesday, April 19th
Winning Pitcher: Marcus Stroman
Save: Roberto Osuna

They Jays handed the Orioles their very first at-home loss this season and it was wonderful. I had to venture into enemy territory to find a broadcast that wasn't a full batter behind, but it was worth it. In atypical fashion, the Jays scored all their runs via short-ball, and the Orioles' all came from home runs - a solo Manny Machado shot in the fourth, and a single and a homer leading off the seventh.

All three runs were charged to Stroman, who lasted seven innings and walked a single batter. He also loaded the bases at one point, before escaping unscathed. It was the first time in his career he'd allowed more than one homer in a game, but he still earned the win.

Michael Saunders had a good day at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored. Troy Tulowitzki drove in two runs with his first double of the season. Jose Bautista also had two hits including a double, a run scored, and an RBI (he loves hitting when they're booing him, doesn't he?). At one point, one of the Baltimore broadcasters mentioned that 12 years ago, Bautista was an Oriole, and then they all sat silently for about 30 seconds. Lamenting what could have been, perhaps? *Insert evil laugh here*

Game 2: Wednesday, April 20th (10 innings)
Jays lose, 3-4
Starting Pitcher: R.A. Dickey
Losing Pitcher: Joe Biagini

To borrow a phrase from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, what in the ham sandwich was that?? The O's leapt out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, but then Dickey didn't allow another run over 6 innings (or a base runner in three of them). Nor did Gavin Floyd or Drew Storen. 

The Jays chipped away at the lead, eventually tying the game on a Josh Donaldsonhome run and two Edwin Encarnacion RBI. They went to the 10th. And the Jays couldn't score. Biagini came in. He seemed focused, retiring the first two batters. But then... A double. A single. A walk. Bases loaded. A passed ball, run scores, and game over. Orioles walk it off.

Both teams had nine hits, but the Jays had seven walks to Baltimore's four (Tulo walked thrice!). They just couldn't string them together at the right times. So, as my friend Daryl astutely put it - a passed ball might have ended the game, but stranding runners in scoring position is what lost the game. Ugh.

Game 3: Thursday, April 21st
Jays lose, 2-3
Starting Pitcher: Marco Estrada
Losing Pitcher: Brett Cecil (Blown Save)

Hooo boy. Where do I start with this one? Well. Chris Tillman started for the O's. He of the career 4-10 record against the Blue Jays? Easy pickings, right? Nope. They had typical Tillman first inning, wherein they used 8 batters and he threw 38 pitches. After scoring twice on two hits (Saunders single, Bautista RBI double), two walks (one with the bases loaded) and a hit-by-pitch - nothing else happened. They had two more hits. Not just off Tillman. In the entire game. Although, yeah, they both came off of Tillman.

Two more walks were to be had, but nothing came of them either. One of them was of the four-pitch variety, to Jose Bautista from his nemesis Darren O'Day. Not quite the dramatic showdown we were hoping for. O'Day then tried what felt like a million times to pick Bautista off first base (it was actually five).

Marco Estrada also had a Tillman-esque first inning, with three consecutive hits and a walk, but he only allowed one run, escaping with the bases loaded after a strikeout and a double play. Estrada eventually settled in, went five innings and struck out nine. However, perhaps the flukey nature of the first Orioles hit should have been a sign.

It went straight through Donaldson's glove. Although while his was failing, Tulo's remained awesome. The Jays managed to hold the 2-1 lead until the seventh, when Pat Venditte awarded Chris Davis his fourth walk of the game. That set off a one-out landslide, with a hit batter, single, and sac fly to tie the game. Joey Rickard scored the winning run in the eighth after a passed ball (stop me if you've heard this one before) allowed him to advance to second, and Manny Machado drove him in.

Overall Notes: 

Like in the last few series, the strike zone was questionable at times. Although I can't think of any specific instances in which the Blue Jays were ripped off, they did luck out a few times on Thursday. In fact, Orioles catcher Matt Wieters was so mad about it that he got himself ejected in the bottom of the sixth after being called out on a checked swing.

Machado and his hit streak aside, somehow the Jays' pitching managed to avoid the more intimidating members of the O's lineup. Most of the hits came from leadoff man Rickard, or the bottom of the order. Davis was hitless in two of the three games. The ability to get those guys out will be useful in the future - that or they'll just walk them a bunch of times.

Weirdly Specific Record Alert:

Wednesday's game was only the second in Jays' history that they lost on a passed ball

My Favourite Player(s) This Series: Michael Saunders

I came really close to saying that no one deserved to be my favourite, because everyone came up short at one point or another. Then I took a look at the three games as a whole, and realized one guy scored five of the nine Blue Jay runs this series. That same guy also had six hits (two each game) and two walks. In spite of a base running gaffe, that's pretty solid leadoff material. Way to go, Best Trade Ross Atkins Never Made!

Where we are now:

3.5 games back of the stupid Orioles

The bad news is, losing to your own division is annoying, and I really hope it's a trend that doesn't continue. Although I did notice that they only had a winning record against two AL East teams last year - the Orioles & Yankees - so hopefully they can win enough games outside the division that it won't really matter.

The good news is, they're going home (they're going home, tell the world they're going home) for two series, both of which are against teams from other divisions. Even if those end up being close games too, being at home will allow for the kind of walk-off potential we actually like!