O's pitching allows three runs on no hits in sixth as Blue Jays win 4-1 (updated)

TORONTO – For an Orioles team that had been playing so well in moving into first place in the American League East, this night was a stark contrast to many recent ones.

O’s pitching and defense allowed Toronto to score three runs on no hits in the last of the sixth to break a 1-1 tie. And the Blue Jays went on to beat the Orioles 4-1 at Rogers Centre, taking the third game of this series.

The Orioles (66-42) maintain their 1.5 game lead on Tampa Bay, which lost to the Yankees. 

The Jays sixth started with right-hander Grayson Rodriguez having a sharp night riding. He sailed through the first three innings and had a two-hitter through five on 75 pitches. He was in a 1-1 tie.

And then he got the first two batters out but walked Brandon Belt on six pitches. Then he had a long duel with Vladimir Guerrero Jr., but after five foul balls, walked him on the 10th pitch. Manager Brandon Hyde went to the bullpen for Shintaro Fujinami, who had thrown 4 2/3 scoreless innings with seven strikeouts his past three games.

But Fujinami could not find the strike zone.

e walked George Springer on four pitches to load the bases and then hit Matt Chapman with his fifth pitch for a 2-1 Blue Jays lead. Fujinami also hit the next batter, plunking Danny Jansen on an 0-2 fastball for a 3-1 edge.

It would get worse. Shortstop Jorge Mateo booted a routine grounder that should have been the third out, and Toronto’s fourth run scored on the two-out error. The pitching meltdown left the Birds three runs down with nine outs left.

This all made Rodriguez the losing pitcher after his night had started so well and he was touching 100 mph with his fastball. He allowed three runs (two after he left the game) on two hits in 5 2/3 innings with two walks and six strikeouts on 96 pitches.

Rodriguez is now 2-3 with a 6.09 ERA. He has an ERA of 3.57 in four starts since his return from Triple-A.

Rodriguez was rolling early on tonight, a follow-up outing to his 6 1/3 scoreless on three hits last Friday night at home versus the New York Yankees.

Toronto hit a couple of balls hard in the home first, but they were lineouts to the outfield and the right-hander had a 1-2-3 first on nine pitches. He needed just 12 more pitches in a 1-2-3 second. In the Blue Jays third, left fielder Daulton Varsho led off and became their first baserunner on a catcher’s interference call on James McCann. But Varsho was erased a double play grounder. Through three frames, Rodriguez faced the minimum nine batters and needed just 29 pitches to get nine outs.

But the Blue Jays broke through for a run to lead 1-0 in the last of the fourth as Springer singled in a run, snapping an 0-for-35 slump. Brandon Belt turned around a 100 mph fastball with a one-out double in the right field corner. He then scored on Springer’s flare to center field. He had been 1-for-43 his past 11 games.

After they scored 13 runs on 16 hits last night, the O’s bats were quiet early on tonight. They went 2-for-14 through the first four innings versus lefty Yusei Kikuchi, a pitcher who had posted a 1.13 ERA his previous three starts and 3.10 his last 11.

Ryan Mountcastle stayed hot with a single in the first and then stole his third base, but was stranded. The O’s left two on in the third when Adley Rutschman singled and Mountcastle walked with two outs. But Anthony Santander grounded to third for the inning’s final out.

Rutschman’s RBI infield single in the fifth tied the game at 1-1 and scored McCann, who had doubled and moved up on a ground ball. Rutschman grounded to second, but no one covered the bag and he reached on the base hit. First baseman Belt was playing wide of first and Kikuchi never broke toward first.

The tie would hold up until Toronto’s three-run, no-hit sixth inning.

Kikuchi allowed six hits and one run and is now 9-3 with a 3.67 ERA after a 91-pitch outing. He threw another good one and the Toronto bullpen closed it out.

Mountcastle went 2-for-2 with two walks and is 7-for-9 this series. 

The Orioles had a three-game win streak snapped, losing for the fourth time in 11 games and seventh time in the past 24. They are now 7-2 versus Toronto, losing for the first time this year at Rogers Centre.

The Orioles need a victory tomorrow to win the series but will have a four-game split with a loss. Right-hander Jack Flaherty (7-6, 4.43 ERA) will make his Baltimore debut facing former O’s right-hander Kevin Gausman (8-5, 3.10 ERA) at 3:07 p.m.

Hyde on O's contributing so much to the loss: “Yeah we’ve been playing such good baseball. Tonight wasn’t our best. You know, 1-1 game in the sixth. We didn’t score many runs. Tough to win that way. Thought their pitching was really good tonight. Kikuchi was outstanding and their bullpen guys were lights out. We had a tough time scoring.

“He (Fujinami) just didn’t have his command. Unfortunately, the walks and hit-by-pitches. Just didn’t have his command tonight."

Does this change how Hyde might use Fujinami going forward?: “Well, we really need him. So, his last few times were really, really good. Hope he can get back to that."

Fujinami (through interpreter Issei Kamada) on poor control: “The runners on first and second and I was trying to do too much. I wanted to get an out so bad. I was kind of rushing. My slide step was, like, too quick and my timing was a little off.”

Fujinami on trying to do too much: “I was trying to understand the situation and trying to calm down before I got on the mound. Once I get on the mound, like the starter, Grayson, was doing a great job today. I didn’t want to give up a run and I was kind of putting too much pressure on myself."

Rodriguez on his outing: “McCann did a great job calling the game. We had some success with the heater. It’s building blocks and just adding to the confidence a little bit.

“Confidence is building each start. It is something me and (Norfolk pitching coach) Justin Ramsey worked really hard on down in Triple-A. Just being able to locate the fastball. Just throw to the plate, going up or down with it.”

Rodriguez, is confidence good now because of progress made at Triple-A or big league results you're getting?: “I’d say it definitely stems from both. Whether it’s in the bullpen between starts. Being able to kind of compete with myself and then come out, obviously, against a good lineup, pretty loud stadium, just kind of seeing how you stack up in the AL East. And right now it’s getting a little bit better. But we are not where we want to be yet.”



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