Bullpen unravels, offense stagnates in 6-1 loss to Blue Jays (updated)

TORONTO - Brandon Hyde surely didn’t want to make two treks to the mound in the seventh inning. But he had little choice.

Relievers Joey Krehbiel and Cionel Pérez had allowed five consecutive batters to reach base, and the game that had seemed winnable moments ago was slipping away at a frightening pace.

After starter Austin Voth befuddled the Blue Jays over six shutout innings, the Orioles bullpen crumbled in a 6-1 loss in the series finale Wednesday afternoon in Toronto.

"You win two out of three, it’s tough to be disappointed," said Hyde of the three-game series. "You lose the third one after winning the first two, that’s when it’s disappointing. You split the first two and win the third, everyone’s celebrating. Happy with the series win, unhappy we couldn’t finish it off today."

Orioles relievers had combined to throw 6 ⅓ scoreless innings through the first two games of the series. But the group came crashing back down to earth in a disastrous seventh inning that saw three pitchers used, eight Blue Jays reach base and six runs come across the plate.

"It’s going to happen," said Hyde of his bullpen's seventh-inning struggles. "The inning started with a bloop single, and then a hit-and-run. I bring in, for me, the best guy available (in Pérez), a guy that’s going to throw 99-100 mph. He got beat with an 0-2 pitch there (to George Springer), and it kind of unraveled after that.

"But our bullpen has done extremely well. Besides that inning, we pitched so well this series and I’m happy with how we played. Today’s disappointing but we got out of it with a series win, and we’ll move onto tomorrow."

Springer brought in the game's first run on a one-out RBI single in the seventh, Springer's 1000th career big league hit. Then Santiago Espinal doubled, bringing home two runs and giving the Jays a 3-0 lead. Five batters later, Toronto had doubled its advantage to 6-0.

Perhaps more frustrating than the performance of Baltimore’s bullpen was that of its offense, which managed just four hits and did not draw a walk. 

It took until the ninth inning of Sunday’s game for the Orioles to record their first hit. It took until the fourth inning Tuesday. And it wasn’t until Cedric Mullins’ leadoff single off Blue Jays starter Ross Stripling in the seventh inning that the O’s first put a runner on base in Wednesday’s game. Mullins eventually reached third base but was left stranded after Austin Hays struck out swinging. 

Through the game’s first six innings, a blowout seemed highly unlikely, thanks to the efforts of Voth. 

Five days after taking a no-hit bid into the sixth inning against the Rays, Voth appeared even sharper against another AL East opponent. The 30-year-old allowed only two hits and walked just one. He hadn’t gone six or more innings since Sept. 22, 2020, when he was pitching for the Nationals.

"I thought I did a really good job of executing fastballs and off-speed pitches down to all their righties, constantly mixing my pitches for the most part and keeping them off-balance," said Voth after the start.

"He’s been doing this since he’s gotten here, keeping up in games and pitching well," said Hyde of Voth. "I thought he threw the ball great today."

The most trouble Voth faced was a leadoff double by Bo Bichette in the fifth. But the righty then retired Raimel Tapia, Santiago Espinal and Danny Jansen on just eight pitches. Bichette never even touched third.

Making his first start since July 30, Stripling was as efficient and effective against the Orioles as any pitcher all season, needing just 72 pitches to get through 6 ⅓ innings. The righty was on a pitch limit after missing two weeks with a glute/hip strain.

“He threw a ton of strikes, but he really mixed extremely well," said Hyde of Stripling. "He's a veteran guy. He had a good sinker today. He’s always had a good four-seam fastball and a good curveball. Good slider to our right-handers. We just didn’t square up many balls against him, didn’t get anything going against him.”

Facing a lineup without catcher Adley Rutschman, who received the day off after catching the first two games of the series, Stripling struck out seven Orioles. The hit he surrendered to Mullins in the seventh was the only baserunner he allowed all afternoon.

The 32-year-old righty exited what was then a scoreless game, greeted by a standing ovation from the Rogers Centre crowd.

The Orioles come home for another afternoon game tomorrow as they face the Cubs in a makeup game. They have yet to announce Thursday’s starter, while Chicago will send Adrian Sampson to the mound.

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