Shortstop J.J. Hardy’s return to the Orioles lineup tonight left manager Buck Showalter with a decision regarding his starter at third base.
Does he keep Jonathan Schoop on the hot corner or move over Ryan Flaherty from short?
Schoop hadn’t faced Blue Jays starter Drew Hutchison. Flaherty was 0-for-1 with an RBI.
Not much data to consider.
Showalter chose Schoop - we’ll find out why later tonight - and the rookie responded with a two-out RBI double off reliever Neil Wagner in the bottom of the seventh to break a scoreless tie.
David Lough singled with two outs, his third hit in 22 at-bats this season, and Schoop drove a 95 mph fastball into right-center field.
Wagner threw six straight fastballs to Schoop ranging from 94 to 97 mph.
Here’s one theory why Schoop got the start: Showalter didn’t want to give the impression that Schoop was being benched after committing two errors in the same inning last night. Put the kid back out there.
Bud Norris gave the Orioles their third straight quality start, blanking the Jays on five hits over seven innings. He walked three and struck out four.
Norris threw 105 pitches, 66 for strikes, before Evan Meek replaced him.
Orioles starters haven’t allowed an earned run in 15 innings in this series.
Instant update: Schoop fielded a hard bouncer by Edwin Encarnacion and fired to second for the force to end the top of the eighth.
Tommy Hunter is warming in the Orioles bullpen.
Update II: Hunter retired the first two batters and got ahead of Colby Rasmus 1-2 before serving up a game-tying home run.
Hunter threw three straight curveballs and got burned on a 98 mph fastball - one pitch after not getting a strike call on what was ruled a checked swing.
This is Hunter’s first blown save in four opportunities.
Rasmus is 6-for-14 with a double and two home runs against Hunter.
Update III: David Lough singled to left field off Todd Redmond with one out in the bottom of the 12th to score Steve Lombardozzi and give the Orioles a 2-1 win.
Jose Bautista robbed J.J. Hardy of an extra-base hit to start the inning, but Lombardozzi tripled over the head of center fielder Colby Rasmus. Lough followed with his second RBI of the season.
Darren O’Day stranded two runners in the 10th and Zach Britton followed with two scoreless innings to raise his total to 8 1/3 this season.