The Orioles used their power tonight to take an early lead while attempting to win the first game of their series against the Blue Jays. They switched to a small ball approach to tie the score. Anything that might work for them.
Don’t live and die by one method.
Trey Mancini proved again that he could handle both of them. But his work was wasted.
Too many mistakes and one 95 mph fastball that was launched deep into the night.
Disconsolate yesterday after striking out on three pitches to leave the bases loaded in a loss in Detroit, Mancini drove in four of the Orioles’ runs tonight in a variety of ways. But Justin Smoak led off the ninth with a home run off Mychal Givens and the Orioles lost to the Blue Jays 8-5 before an announced crowd of 9,280 at Camden Yards.
Rookie Cavan Biggio hit for the cycle, with his two-run triple off Givens padding the lead and also causing Mason Williams to leave the game with an injury.
Williams ran full-speed into the fence in front of the bullpen. He stayed down as two runs scored and eventually made the slow walk to the dugout with assistant athletic trainer Mark Shires.
Mancini broke a 3-3 tie with an RBI single off Justin Shafer in the seventh inning, but the Jays scored a run in the eighth off Shawn Armstrong and Smoak demolished Givens’ second pitch of the ninth to lower the Orioles’ record to 49-102.
Biggio had his first career four-hit night and it happened to be for the cycle, the third in Blue Jays history and the second this year at Camden Yards. Jonathan Villar had the other.
Biggio’s father, Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, hit for the cycle on April 8, 2002.
There have been four cycles in the ballpark’s history and tonight marked the first by an opponent.
The Blue Jays increased the lead to 8-4 after Evan Phillips replaced Givens. Villar’s error allowed Biggio to score.
Villar homered off Ken Giles in the bottom of the ninth.
The bullpen strung together three scoreless innings behind starter Chandler Shepherd before the Blue Jays tied the game against Armstrong.
Biggio doubled with one out and caught the Orioles napping, his steal of third base failing to draw a throw or much notice. He scored on Lourdes Gurriel Jr.’s fly ball.
Chance Sisco led off the seventh with a double off the base of the fence in right-center field. Villar drew an eight-pitch walk, Dwight Smith Jr. popped up and Mancini lined a single into left field for his 88th RBI of the season.
Villar was thrown out at third base on the play and the Orioles couldn’t add an important tack-on run, with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. catching Hanser Alberto’s screaming liner to strand two.
Mancini hit his fourth home run in five games, a two-run shot to right field off Ryan Tepera in the first inning. Mancini has 34 homers on the season as he barrels toward the Most Valuable Oriole Award that’s going to be presented this weekend.
(I’m just assuming that he’s won. I also assumed that he’d go to the All-Star Game, so always take my track record into consideration.)
Rio Ruiz tripled with one out, sliding on his right side and reaching for the bag with his hand to avoid the tag, but he was stranded.
Down 3-2 in the fifth, the Orioles parlayed a leadoff walk to Sisco, Villar’s bunt single, Smith’s sacrifice bunt and Mancini’s fly ball to center field into the tying run.
The ball beat Sisco to the plate, but he managed to dive around catcher Danny Jansen’s attempted tag.
Meanwhile, this isn’t the way that Shepherd wanted to blend into the Orioles pitching staff.
Making his first major league start after two relief appearances, Shepherd surrendered home runs in back-to-back innings to lose a lead and raise the club’s total to 286.
The number wasn’t set in stone.
Shepherd retired the side in order in the first, staying on the mound for one extra pitch after Ruiz and Sisco allowed a foul popup to fall between them. But Randal Grichuk homered onto the flag court in right field in the second inning to reduce the lead to 2-1.
Biggio homered over the center field fence in the third after a two-out walk to Bo Bichette to give Toronto a 3-2 lead.
The only Orioles who haven’t surrendered a home run this season are Nate Karns and Jesús Sucre. Karns was designated for assignment and released. Sucre is a catcher who finished the season on Triple-A Norfolk’s restricted list.
Grichuk has five doubles and five home runs this season in nine games against the Orioles. He’s collected 14 doubles and 10 homers in 26 career games against them.
Manager Brandon Hyde probably is more annoyed by the popup that wasn’t caught and a fly ball from Guerrero with two outs in the third that fell in left-center field.
Smith ran a long way, reached for the ball and couldn’t touch it. But Williams picked it up and threw out Gurriel at third base.
Hyde also could bemoan Villar’s out at third base and Biggio’s uncontested steal. All of it led to Givens’ fastball that the box score will show decided the outcome.
Givens has surrendered a home run in his last two outings after going 15 straight without one.
Balls hit in the air keep finding grass, if they’re not in the seats or on the flag court.
Hunter Harvey didn’t pitch tonight despite situations in the eighth and ninth that normally would have suited him.
Shepherd allowed three runs and four hits in four innings, with one walk and four strikeouts. He retired the side in order in the fourth to leave on a high note.
Tepera worked only one inning as the opener, throwing 22 pitches and passing the baton to Trent Thornton, who had been listed as the starter. Thornton allowed one run in five innings.
Update: According to STATS, the Biggios are the second father-son duo to hit for the cycle. Gary and Daryle Ward did it first.
Hyde provided an update on Williams, who was in the clubhouse after the game.
“He got hit in the head, in the knee,” Hyde said. “They’re going to watch him overnight. He’s not showing any concussion signs, but they are going to monitor him. We’ll see tomorrow.”
Hyde on wanting better defense and baserunning: “Tonight was not it. I’m really disappointed, to be honest with you. I was disappointed from the second inning on. I feel like for the most part this year, we’ve competed our tails off. Just fell short quite a few times. But I just thought we made a lot of mistakes tonight. I thought we played like a really tired team. And we need better effort.”
Hyde on whether fatigue is a factor: “Everybody is tired. It’s part of it. You have to grind through it.”
Hyde on Shepherd: “I thought Shep did a nice job. He just made a couple of bad pitches for a couple of homers. But for a guy making his first major league start, I thought he threw strikes and got ahead of hitters. It took a little while to find his breaking ball. But he did a nice job for four innings and you’ll see him back out there.”
Hyde on whether Givens might be tired: “I’m seeing 96 (mph). No. He’s been hot and cold this year.”
Hyde on Mancini: “He’s playing his best baseball of the year right now. I love the way he’s getting the ball in the air. He’s just driving the ball. This guy brings it every single night. Love the effort. Love the intensity. He’s a super pro and he’s taking really good at-bats.”
Mancini on sloppy play: “Tonight was probably one of our worst games of the year in that regard, if not the worst. Overall, I’m proud of how we played and have gone about our business all year. We’ve obviously lost a lot of games that we could have won and we’ve made some mistakes, but tonight just felt a little different for some reason. Probably one of our worst games of the year unfortunately.”
Mancini on whether he knows why one of worst: “No, not really. There were several plays that maybe could have been made and we didn’t. Made a couple baserunning mistakes. It just felt like a very winnable game there and we kind of let it slip away.”
Mancini on how he’s going out on a roll: “Definitely. I think everybody wants to finish the year strong. Again, it sounds cliché but it’s honestly what I think about when I go up to the plate is to do what I can to help the team win and try to have a good at-bat. Whether it’s moving a guy, trying to drive a guy in. If you’re thinking about that and really focused on attacking the ball and trying to hit it in the middle of the field and drive it, things will usually go pretty well, so kind of been my mindset lately.”
Shepherd on start: “I thought I threw some good pitches. I made a couple of mistakes. They took advantage of it. I was excited to get out there and get that first start under my belt.”
Shepherd on whether he was nervous: “Not really. I think the few outings before helped calm my nerves down a little bit. I was anxious to get out there. Yeah, I would say it’s a good opportunity.”