O's use big inning to pound Kevin Gausman, split Toronto series (updated)

TORONTO – In their first matchup against former Oriole right-hander Kevin Gausman today, the O's scored a third-round knockout. Well, a third-inning departure anyway. They treated their 2012 top draft pick (No. 4 overall) rudely today as they beat the Toronto Blue Jays 10-2 to split the four-game series.

The Orioles went 4-4 on this road trip and return home at 28-37 to host the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday night. This was the first series of three or more games where the O’s won or split versus Toronto since Aug. 1-4, 2019.

The Orioles will head home with some momentum, having won four of the last six games and they are 6-5 over the last 11. They are 14-13 the past 27 games and 9-7 in their past 16 AL East games. They are 7-7 this month.  

Gausman began the outing at 5-5 and his 2.67 ERA ranked ninth-best in the American League. Signed by the Blue Jays in December to a five-year deal worth $110 million, he allowed two earned runs or less in eight of his 12 starts this season. Gausman also recorded seven quality starts.

But it was quality at-bats that did him in during the top of the third inning. They scored six runs on seven hits to open a 7-0 lead at Rogers Centre. The O’s scored six runs in an inning three times at Camden Yards in early May. But they had never done it on the road until today.

“I just thought we swung at strikes," manager Brandon Hyde said of the outburst. "He’s got a great split, it’s a mid 90s, upper 90s fastball with a really good split and I thought we got the split up and got enough and we put good swings on it. Took really good at-bats off Gausman, happy with just how much pressure we put on them and making him come into the strikezone. We just jumped on him early, it was great."

Leading already by 1-0 after scoring in the first inning, Cedric Mullins started it all with a flared single to center. He went to third and Austin Hays reached second on a two-base error by Toronto third sacker Santiago Espinal. The O’s quickly cashed in on the Toronto mistake when hot-hitting Ryan Mountcastle ripped a two-run single for a 3-0 lead. He advanced to third on Adley Rutschman’s double and scored on Rougned Odor’s sac fly and it was 4-0. Tyler Nevin and Ryan McKenna then followed with successive RBI doubles to make it 6-0 and end Gausman’s day after he got only seven outs. David Phelps came in to pitch for the Jays. But when Jorge Mateo singled in a run, that was charged to the Gausman as well.

For Gausman, it was both his shortest outing of the year and worst in terms of allowing a season-high for runs topping his previous of five. He went just 2 1/3 innings allowing seven hits and seven runs (five earned) on 53 pitches and his ERA jumped to 3.21.

In their big inning the Orioles hit five balls 95 mph or more off Gausman. McKenna’s double at 105.6 mph was actually the hardest-ball they hit in the frame.

"I think just the adjustments that we made, the momentum of seeing guys have success and talking to each other in the dugout. Stuff that we had seen fron him and we had a good approach that inning," McKenna said.

The O’s offense gets only a co-starring role today because of the fine pitching of O’s right-hander Tyler Wells, who was good again for Baltimore. After stranding two runners in the first, he retired eight batters in a row and gave up five hits and one run over six innings.

Wells improved to 4-4 and lowered his ERA to 3.62, throwing 86 pitches, 59 for strikes. It is his fourth career quality start and his third in the past four games. In his last five starts, Wells is 3-1 with a 2.67 ERA.

Hyde had a lot of praise for Wells again covering six innings.

“It’s tough too, because he’s on a pitch count," he said. "That shows you how efficient he’s been in that, he reached it again today. I didn’t know how far he was going to go. Obviously we were a little strapped in the bullpen today, so first couple innings he threw quite a few pitches. But he throws all four pitches in the zone. Threw some really good right-on-right changeups today with a good slider and mid 90s fastball. And he’s not afraid to force contact. His strikeouts are down because he is so much in the strikezone and challenges hitters.

“He’s giving up a chance every time out lately and that’s a really, really good lineup that he threw six innings against.

With his six innings today, Wells has thrown 59 2/3 innings this season and he threw 57 all of last year.

Wells was asked about keeping his focus in pitching with a big early lead.

“Honestly, whenever you get a big lead like that it’s easy to kind of say you can sit back, relax and breath," he said. "The way that I try to trick myself into thinking, I try to make sure that I am more intense, more focused than I was before. It’s great to have big innings and the guys absolutely crushed out there today, but it’s also just as important to have a shutdown inning. Trying to stay intense with my focus and getting into that next inning and being able to shut it down is also important.”  

Later in the game, Wells gave up his only run in the fourth on Teoscar Hernandez’s 429-foot homer to left center. The O’s added on with two runs in the seventh. Odor produced an RBI triple and scored the run for a 9-1 lead on Nevin’s sac fly for his second RBI of the game. Hays pounded his ninth homer of the year over the wall in left in the eight for the O's 10th run.

The Orioles scored 10 or more for the fourth time with a season-high of 12 runs. They have have 54 runs in their past nine games and 245 in their last 53 for an average of 4.62 per game.

Roster update: After the game Hyde said that Anthony Santander and Keegan Akin will come off the restricted list and rejoin the club Friday versus Tampa Bay. The substitute players that were on the roster in Toronto - Kyle Stowers and Rico Garcia - are heading back to Triple-A.

Leftovers for breakfast
O's game blog: The series and road trip finale

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