Orioles hit four home runs in 7-4 win over Blue Jays (updated)

The Orioles knew the statistics and their own history with Yusei Kikuchi.

He walks a lot of batters. He can create rallies on his own. Be patient, be smart, and maybe it becomes a bullpen game for the Blue Jays.

Adley Rutschman drew a seven-pitch walk tonight with one out in the first inning and Anthony Santander earned a free pass on six. Ryan Mountcastle grounded into a force, but Ramón Urías launched a 96 mph fastball over the right-center field fence.

One big swing drew the loudest ovation, but the two walks before it set up the moment.

The Orioles did the heavy lifting in the third, again bringing the crowd to its feet, when Santander and Mountcastle went back-to-back, and Austin Hays homered off reliever Trent Thornton in the sixth in a 7-4 victory that again bumped the club five games above .500 at 57-52.

Be patient unless there’s a pitch that’s too good to pass up. Then attack it.

Joey Krehbiel inherited two runners from Dillon Tate in the eighth and they both scored on Raimel Tapia’s single and Danny Jansen’s sacrifice fly to reduce the lead to 6-4. Félix Bautista also inherited two in the inning, stranded them with one pitch, and recorded the four-out save after the Orioles scored in the bottom of the eighth on Mountcastle’s RBI single that followed a Rutschman walk and Santander single.

The Jays twice brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth, but a strikeout and 4-6-3 double play followed.

"Bautista steadied the ship with a big out there in the eighth, which is what he's been doing all year," said manager Brandon Hyde.

"He's going to continue to get opportunities. I love his stuff and his makeup, and 101 is tough to hit. It's a good split. So, we'll take our chances."

"Everyone's been throwing it well," said Jordan Lyles, "but the numbers that he's putting up and early in his career, just dominant. That's the first word that comes to mind. ... I wouldn't want to stand in there. But it's been fun to watch him grow."

Santander’s team-leading 20th homer, tying his career high in 2019, came on a 96 mph fastball with the count 0-1 and traveled 415 feet into the Orioles’ bullpen. Mountcastle ran the count full before hitting his first home run since July 3, and first in Baltimore since June 5, with Kikuchi’s slider traveling 426 feet to left field with a 109.1 mph exit velocity.

The Orioles have gone back-to-back nine times this season, with Mountcastle involved in six.

He found the right opponent tonight.

Mountcastle went 8-for-18 with two doubles and three home runs in the four-game series at Rogers Centre, and he began tonight as a career .348/.400/.696 hitter with four doubles, 12 home runs and 23 RBIs in 29 games against the Jays.

He’s now 10-for-21 versus the Jays this season. His career OPS is 1.131. The Toronto tormentor.

"He's not missing mistakes, that's for sure," Hays said. "I don't know what it is. He gets after them."

"He's been grinding lately," Hyde said. "It's been a tough couple weeks. And to see him get on one and hit it the way he did, and a big tack-on base hit, too. That's definitely a positive for us, to get Mounty going. And Haysie, after not playing for a while, getting a base hit and a huge homer there, also. It was a good offensive night for our guys."

Kikuchi was averaging 5.2 walks per nine innings, and he issued four free passes over four innings on June 14 in Toronto.

“We chased him fairly early because we were selective,” Hyde said this afternoon.

Kikuchi lasted five-plus innings tonight and allowed five runs and six hits with three walks. Hays followed Urías’ double play grounder in the sixth with his own 426-footer to left field in his return from a sore oblique.

Hyde’s right-handed lineup operated as he hoped. He made a change in the fifth when Tyler Nevin was removed from the game, Rougned Odor entered at second base and Urías moved to third.

Nevin had fouled a ball off his leg while batting in the fourth, but the switch was made because his turn wasn't coming up again with Kikuchi still in the game, and Hyde wanted Odor's defense.

"It got a little dicey there in the ninth, but we turned a great double play," Hyde said. "Roogie (Odor) is one of the better double play guys I've ever seen at second base in person, how quick he gets the ball to the shortstop, as well as him turning a double play.

"We made a couple errors tonight but we have been playing really well defensively. That's not talked about enough is how well we're playing defense, and that's a huge difference than in the years past here. Those double plays did not get turned the last few years. Those are big moments, to get guys out of a jam."

Lyles allowed two runs in 5 2/3 innings on solo shots by Cavan Biggio in the third and Matt Chapman in the sixth. Lyles has surrendered only three homers at Camden Yards this season.

Hyde removed Lyles at 103 pitches and after the Jays put 10 runners on base, and Cionel Pérez stranded Jansen by getting a called third strike on Biggio.

"That was great to get out to an early lead, just for me, being a little more comfortable, not having to be so precise," Lyles said.

Lyles stranded two runners in the second and two more in the third. The Jays had back-to-back singles with one out in the fifth and Teoscar Hernández grounded into a 5-4-3 double play.

The Orioles didn’t score in the second after Jorge Mateo reached on an infield hit and was thrown out trying to steal. Rutschman grounded into a double play in the third after Ryan McKenna’s leadoff single, but Santander and Mountcastle flexed and the Jays fell to 60-49.

"I think the closer we get to the end of the year, every game matters a little bit more," Hays said. "We bounced back tonight and swung the bat really well. Able to get four homers in a game. That doesn't happen a whole lot. It was a good night for us."

Hays said he noticed that the games were feeling different after the Orioles posted consecutive winning months.

"We could see where this team was, and we're going out expected to win every game," he said. "We've been in this mindset now for the last couple months and we're just continuing to play good baseball."

The teams meet 14 more times over the last 53 games. Tonight's outcome was significant, but Hyde wasn't ready to call it a statement.

"I think we swung the bats really well against Kikuchi there, especially early, and it's nice to see us hit some homers. I feel like it's been a little bit since we had a game like that offensively," he said.

"That's a really good offensive team, and to hold them to four runs ... Jordan Lyles, just giving up two runs into the sixth inning, that was fantastic, and Bautista with four big outs there at the end. I thought we did a lot of really good things tonight."

The Orioles returned to the clubhouse 1 1/2 games back in the wild card race, 1 1/2 behind the third-place Rays and three behind the second-place Jays.

"I wouldn't say coming into today that this one means more or it's worth 1 1/2 wins versus just a single win," Lyles said. "We obviously know how good and talented they are. One of the best offenses in baseball. We know we're getting into a good stretch of quality opponents. We've been playing ball well. Just another series, another Monday night. We're going to come out and try to win the series against a really good team tomorrow."

Notes: The Orioles released Double-A Bowie first baseman J.D. Mundy, who signed out of Radford University after the shortened 2020 draft. He was batting .218/.302/.385 with 15 doubles, eight home runs, 39 RBIs, 28 walks and 85 strikeouts in 268 plate appearances.

Mundy hit a combined .291/.390/.536 with 20 doubles, 15 home runs and 57 RBIs last summer in 308 plate appearances between Single-A Aberdeen and Delmarva.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. extended his hitting streak to 19 games with a single in the fifth inning.

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