TORONTO - In an effort to stop a losing streak tonight, the Orioles took an early lead and then held on to see if their pitching staff could hold a narrow advantage.
After losing three straight games by one run and six straight overall, the Orioles beat the Toronto Blue Jays 2-1 tonight in front of 31,714 at Rogers Centre. They improved to 72-74 and avoided getting swept three straight.
Right-hander Kevin Gausman, pitching on five days’ rest, went seven innings, allowing six hits and one run, to get the win. He walked one and fanned six to improve to 11-10 with an ERA of 4.83.
Gausman pitched out of jams in the third and fourth, stranded a runner at second with two outs in the sixth and got an inning-ending double play in the seventh.
Over his last 10 starts, he is 6-3 with an ERA of 2.53 and has allowed two or fewer runs eight times. Before this outing, the O’s had just four quality starts their past 13 games.
Darren O’Day pitched a 1-2-3 eighth on 11 pitches. Zach Britton, called on for the second night in a row to protect a 2-1 lead, got the save this time. He gave up a one-out single, but got Kevin Pillar to bounce into a game-ending double play.
The Orioles used two extra-base hits and some help from Toronto fielders to lead 2-0 in the top of the first against right-hander Marcus Stroman. Tim Beckham led off by reaching on a throwing error by third baseman Josh Donaldson. With two outs, Adam Jones lined a ball to deep left. It looked like left fielder Tesocar Hernandez had a chance for a catch, but the ball sailed over his head for an RBI double and 1-0 lead. Batting next, Trey Mancini boomed an RBI triple to center for his fourth triple and a 2-0 lead. The error made both runs unearned.
Toronto pulled within 2-1 with a pair of doubles in the last of the third. Hernandez led off with a two-bagger to right. With one out, a flare to left by Richard Ureña went off the glove of a diving Mancini in left. That made it 2-1. But Gausman got a double to play to end that inning and stranded two more runners in the fourth.
The Orioles have scored just 12 runs over their last seven games, but they won tonight with just two of them. Now it’s on to New York to start a four-game series Thursday night at Yankee Stadium.
Manager Buck Showalter on winning a close one: “It’s that time of year. You look all over baseball and you all hear me talk a lot about snowball (effect) and it takes sometime one game to go the other direction. We’ve been pitching well on this trip. Kevin had an extra day’s rest and thought it helped him. You know you are not going to get much with Stroman. But we had bases loaded, nobody out. We had men on second, nobody out and didn’t execute very well there. Usually that bites you. But Kevin, Darren and Zach made it matter.”
Showalter with more on Gausman: “He didn’t have a feel for his off-speed pitch early. They were talking about in the dugout. And then he got a feel for it about the fourth inning and really made it part of the repertoire. He pitched with fastball command that has been the difference in him in the last couple of months where he has kind of turned his year around. The fastball command has gotten back there. A lot of hard work by him and Roger (McDowell).”
Gausman on his strong outing: “Me and Caleb, we had a really good scouting report on these guys and I’ve had some good games against them this year, so it was more about me pitching toward my strengths and not necessarily their weaknesses. And that’s something I’ve really been focusing on doing more in the second half. Stroman was pitching today, so I know runs would be at a premium. Once we scored those two runs, I told myself, ‘Hey those are your runs, that’s all you’re going to get today,’ and you know, unfortunately, that’s the way it was. But luckily I was able to pound the strike zone and keep mixing my pitches and keep them off-balance.”
Gausman pitching at a time when the offense is struggling: “That’s kind of what comes with our offense. Obviously, some games they’re going to just go out there and have 20 hits and every guy in the lineup, it seems like he hits a home run. And then other days, its kind of the way it’s been lately. We’ve kind of been struggling a little bit. It was good to get a close win like that. Obviously, wish we had won last night, too. Good to not get swept and end that six-game losing streak.”
Mancini on getting a much-needed win: “Yeah, it was great to win a close game like that. We know as an offense we need to pick it up a little bit here. But Kevin did a fantastic job tonight and gave us a chance to win. Luckily, we came through with a couple of runs early and did that. We had some opportunities. We lucked out tonight by getting a win there. But we know we need to do a better job with runners in scoring position and such. Getting those runs in there are huge. Getting a couple of insurance runs. That is definitely something we can work on going forward.”