But after the Orioles could not take the lead in their half of the 10th off Drew Storen, Toronto’s Edwin Encarnacion homered to right field off Brach to give the Blue Jays a 4-3, walk-off win. The teams have played five games this year and all have been decided by one run, with two in extra innings.
The Orioles fall to 36-24 as their five-game win streak ends and they lose for just the second time in their last 10 games.
Encarnacion was 0-for-19 when he stepped in to bat. He hit a 97 mph fastball on a 3-2 pitch for his fifth career walk-off home run. Brach threw a pitch that he might get a lot of outs on, but not this time.
“I was going down and away and it was maybe up just a bit and it was slightly off the plate and he put a good swing on it,” Brach said as he fell to 5-1 with an ERA of 1.08. “Every time we come here it’s always close games, especially against this team,” Brach said. “It just seems to be the way it is every game against them. Every pitch counts. You’ve just got to get the outs when you can and the runs when you can and it was one of those nights when we didn’t get it when we needed it. One bad pitch or one pitch they could put a good swing on and it could be over just like tonight. It happens and you just have to be able to go again tomorrow.”
Brach had allowed just one homer in 33 1/3 innings all year (to Chicago’s Brett Lawrie) when Encarnacion connected. Manager Buck Showalter was reminded how good Brach has been this year.
“He was again tonight,” Showalter said. “Hit a good pitch by a good pitcher and hit by a good hitter. That’s why they call it the big leagues. We had a great eighth inning, pitched well in the ninth and just one pitch. But there are a lot of other things in the game than that. Brad is one of the best relief pitchers in the American League. Like (Marco) Estrada is one of the best starting pitchers.
“Gaus (Kevin Gausman) pitched well again tonight, I thought. Got off to a little tough start. You know I think almost a third of our errors have been by our pitchers this year. That is something we have to get better. I think we’ve had like five errors on throw overs.”
Gausman was asked about his throwing error on a pickoff play at first base in the first inning. It led to an unearned run for the Blue Jays.
“That’s one of those things,” Gausman said. “You work on it as much as you can. Just a bad throw. Just spiked it right into the ground and with a guy diving into the base, it’s tough for C.D. (Chris Davis) to even try to make a play on that. I have to be better than that...I was more upset in the fact that being a starting pitcher, when you get the lead, you’re supposed to shut the door, especially that next inning. That’s what I was most upset about.”
Gausman went 6 1/3 innings, allowing eight hits and three runs (two earned), throwing 106 pitches. He was in trouble often, but Toronto hitters were just 2-for-10 against him with runners in scoring position and 2-for-13 for the game.
“I felt great. I just kind of had my back up against the wall a bunch of times,” Gausman said. “All you try to do is pitch out of those situations. I felt like my last four starts haven’t been very efficient, haven’t been very quick. I’m getting deep into counts and you do that against a good team, they’re going to make you hurt.”
In the sixth inning, Davis’ two-run homer off Estrada gave the Orioles a 3-2 lead. Davis leads all players with 33 homers against Toronto since 2008. He now has 15 homers in 149 at-bats at Rogers Centre. That ratio of a homer every 9.93 at-bats is the best for any of the 345 players with at least 100 career at-bats in this ballpark.
“No, I’ve told you all for the years I’ve been here, that’s one thing you really have to pay attention to, is ballparks,” Showalter said. “A guy can be struggling - a pitcher or hitter - and they get into a ballpark they’ve had success in and it somehow changes. Of course Chris has done well in other ballparks too, including ours. I try to remind everybody that he has similar statistics he had last year at this time. So you better take advantage of him while you can because we know there are some good things ahead.”
Over his last three games, Davis is batting .400 (4-for-10) with three homers and six RBIs. He has 14 homers on the year and has 173 since the 2012 season, to lead the majors.
So an impressive win is followed by a tough loss for the Orioles. They will sleep fast and play Saturday at 1:07 p.m. when Mike Wright (3-3, 5.14 ERA) pitches against the Blue Jays J.A. Happ (6-3, 3.57 ERA).