Outfield defense gets another assist (Schoop homers)

Part of David Lough’s appeal to the Orioles is his ability to run down fly balls or hits in the gap and to make strong and accurate throws.

Lough put his defensive skills on display in the bottom of the first inning tonight at Rogers Centre on Edwin Encarnacion’s two-out double. Lough fired the ball to shortstop J.J. Hardy, who cut down Melky Cabrera at the plate for the Orioles’ eighth outfield assist.

The Orioles and Angels were tied for the major league lead with seven outfield assists before tonight. They’ve thrown out five runners at second base, one at third and two at home.

Lough has three assists, Delmon Young and Nick Markakis each have two and Adam Jones has one.

Hardy is always in the proper position for the relay, which manager Buck Showalter and Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. have pointed out on multiple occasions. Wieters applies the tag at home plate as well as any catcher. And he made sure not to block it while awaiting the throw.

The defense bailed out starter Bud Norris in the first inning, but he served up home runs to Dioner Navarro and Colby Rasmus - the latter a two-run shot - in the second to give Toronto a 3-0 lead.

Navarro is 4-for-9 lifetime against Norris. Rasmus is only 6-for-26 with two homers.

Norris allowed two homers over his first three starts. He’s already matched that total in one inning.

The Orioles are 1-5 when their opponent scores first.

Wieters doubled in the second inning to raise his average to .355. And yes, it came from the left side of the plate.

Lough singled in the third and would have scored on Nelson Cruz’s double if the ball hadn’t bounced into the seats, forcing him to stop at third base. Cruz would have collected an RBI in his seventh consecutive game.

Update: Jonathan Schoop led off the top of the fifth inning with his second home run, an impressive shot to left field.

Chris Davis produced a two-out RBI single later in the inning to reduce Toronto’s lead to 3-2.

Lough walked, stole second, hustled to third on a fly ball to left and scored the Orioles’ second run. He’s having an impressive night.

Norris’ hamstring tightened in the bottom of the fourth, but he stayed in the game after a few warmup tosses. It’s still bothering him, but he just retired the Jays in order in the fifth. He’s going to tough it out for as long as Showalter allows.

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