TORONTO – There were potentially some positive signs early on tonight for O's struggling lefty Bruce Zimmermann, who had an ERA of 9.47 his last five starts when he took the mound tonight at Rogers Centre.
Through the first two innings, while he was behind 1-0, Blue Jays batters had swung and whiffed on four of seven changeups – a bread and butter pitch for Zimmermann. A slider strikeout of George Springer ended the second. Maybe his secondary pitches would be there for him tonight.
It turned out they were not.
While Zimmermann struggled again, the Orioles offense came to life late as they rallied to tie the Blue Jays. But Toronto produced a walk-off win 7-6 in the last of the 10th on Vladimir Guerrero Jr.'s RBI single to left. It scored placed runner Bo Bichette as Toronto won on Guerrero's fourth hit of the night. He hit a 100 mph fastball from Felix Bautista and sent it into left field at 116 mph and the game was over.
The O's stranded the potential go-ahead run on third with one out in their half of the tenth. And on a night they came from 5-0 down after three innings and 6-2 behind after six and rallied to tie it, they still came up short. By one run as they suffered their second walkoff loss of the season.
As the O's came back, Ryan Mountcastle produced a two-homer night and has hit 12 on the year and 41 in his last 148 games dating to last season.
His solo homer in the seventh pulled the Orioles within 6-3. He smashed a José Berríos curveball 424 feet and hit the facing of the third deck in left field at Rogers Centre.
In the O’s eighth, they rallied with two outs and none on. Cedric Mullins doubled and scored on Austin Hays' two-bagger and it was 6-4. Then Mountcastle stunned the Jays with a game-tying, two-run shot to center that he blasted 413 feet. Mountcastle has hit seven homers his last 15 games this season and has 12 in 28 career games off Toronto pitching.
Earlier, Toronto hit three long homers off Zimmermann as his struggles continued and they built a lead.
This game also featured Adley Rutschman’s first major league home run and first two RBIs. He hit a two-run shot in the Orioles fourth that cut their deficit to 5-2.
Rutschman batted fourth for the second game in a row with Anthony Santander on the restricted list and Trey Mancini out with a hand injury. Even though he was 1-for-7 in the first two games of this series, he had been 5-for-18 with three doubles the past five games.
And tonight he connected for big league homer No. 1, driving a first-pitch fastball at 94 mph from Berríos out to right-center with two outs in the fourth. It was the O’s first hit of the night and scored Austin Hays, who was hit by a pitch.
His first homer came in his 21st game, his 76th at-bat and 84th plate appearance. He hit the ball with an exit velocity of 103 mph and it went 411 feet.
But the Orioles trailed again after the first inning tonight when they were down 1-0. After they went 1-2-3 against Berríos on 10 pitches, Alejandro Kirk’s two-out double plated the game’s first run. It scored Guerrero, who reached on a two-out bloop single to center. Second baseman Rougned Odor tried to make an over-the-shoulder catch on his popup, but the ball glanced off his glove. Moments later, Guerrero scored from first on Alejandro Kirk’s double to right.
Zimmermann got through the second stranding two runners, but then allowed two homers in the last of the third as Toronto opened a 5-0 lead. Both came with two outs.
Teoscar Hernández blasted a 2-1 Zimmermann sinker that found the middle of the plate out to left-center for a 3-0 lead. It was No. 4 on the season as the ball went soaring 461 feet into the Toronto night. After a single, Matt Chapman blasted a two-run shot off a Zimmermann slider the 411-foot blast made it a 5-0 lead.
Zimmermann’s allowed a third homer where Guerrero hit No. 16 in the Blue Jays fifth for a 6-2 lead. He crushed a curveball 443 feet for his 18th career homer in 48 games against O’s pitching.
The Rutschman homer was the only hit Berríos allowed through six innings. Then the O’s got to the Toronto bullpen to tie the game 6-6 in the eighth.
The late rally by the Orioles took Zimmermann off the hook for the loss, but his ERA is now 5.94. Over his past six starts he has allowed 15 homers and 33 earned runs in 30 1/3 innings. Zimmermann has allowed five runs or more in five of those six starts.
For the year he has allowed just one homer in 30 2/3 innings at Camden Yards and 17 home runs in 36 innings on the road.
The O's got a big long relief outing by Bryan Baker. The right-hander pitched 2 1/3 scoreless on 29 pitches which would later allow the offense to get back in the game.
IronBirds clinch: The O's high Single-A Aberdeen affiliate beat Jersey Shore 3-2 tonight to clinch the South Atlantic League's North Division first-half title. The IronBirds will be in the playoffs later in the year and improved to 40-19 as Colton Cowser and Coby Mayo homered.