TORONTO - Alek Manoah was feeling himself.
The imposing righty skipped off the mound, his 6-foot-6, 285-pound frame floating over the infield grass. He had just picked up his seventh strikeout by getting Ramón Urías swinging on a fastball up and in, capping off his fourth consecutive shutout inning to open the game.
Things were going well.
By the end of his evening, Manoah was plodding slowly toward the third base dugout, having surrendered a two-run lead, while still responsible for the two runners on base in a brutal sixth inning.
Things had gone poorly.
Manoah fell victim to the unflappable Orioles, who scored two in the fifth and two in the sixth to beat the Blue Jays 4-2 at Rogers Centre on Tuesday night.
Manoah and Orioles starter Dean Kremer had inverse outings, and it was Kremer who was strutting confidently off the mound at the conclusion of his seventh and final inning. The righty put together an impressive outing, tossing seven innings of two-run ball while striking out six.
"Absolutely fantastic," said manager Brandon Hyde of Kremer's start. "I’m just so impressed, proud of him."
The game began in nightmare fashion for Kremer, who put the O’s in a 2-0 hole before retiring a batter. After George Springer reached on an infield single to lead off the bottom of the first, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. launched his second homer in as many nights, a missile to left field that was hit 111 mph off the bat.
But Kremer couldn't stop and ponder the mistake. He had to move on.
"I had no choice, because I knew I was going to face him once, twice, maybe three times," Kremer said after the game. "They got a good lineup, just try to grind through every at-bat."
Kremer steadily improved as the night wore on, gaining confidence with each zero put up on the scoreboard. The 26-year-old worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the third and walked just one batter all night, finishing with 98 pitches and 65 strikes.
"He didn’t let (Guerrero's home run) unravel him," Hyde said. "He continued to pitch and make big pitches in big spots and throw a ton of strikes. I think this was a great step forward for him.
"That was the best pitching performance for him, by far, I’ve seen from the standpoint of how he used all of his pitches, great mix. Him and Adley (Rutschman) worked great together. He was unbelievably competitive. That’s huge for us and huge for him. That shows you the kind of pitcher he can be."
As Kremer found his groove, so did the Orioles offense.
After collecting just one hit off Manoah through the first four innings, Baltimore broke through in the fifth with two-out, back-to-back homers from Cedric Mullins and Rutschman. The first was poked over the center field wall on a 2-1 pitch. The second lasered into the seats in right field.
Both counted the same, and the game was tied 2-2. But it wouldn’t stay that way for long.
Terrin Vavra walked with one out in the sixth, reached second on a groundout by Rougned Odor, then came home on an RBI single to center by Urías. Jorge Mateo then drew a rare free pass, and, after Manoah was pulled for veteran righty Anthony Bass, Ryan McKenna drove in Urías with a single to right.
The comeback kids were at it again. The O’s had taken a 4-2 lead.
For the second consecutive night, Baltimore’s bullpen put forth a scoreless effort. Dillon Tate and Félix Bautista worked through the middle of Toronto’s lineup with ease, ending the game with two scoreless innings to preserve Kremer’s fifth win of the season.
Austin Voth heads to the mound Wednesday afternoon as the Orioles look to complete the three-game sweep of their American League East foes.