TORONTO - For the second night in a row in this series, the Toronto Blue Jays had the lead after the first inning against the Orioles. It was 3-1 last night and 1-0 tonight on an unearned run.
Right fielder Ezequiel Carrera, playing for the injured Jose Bautista (right thigh tightness), led off with a bunt single and advanced to third on Kevin Gausman’s errant pickoff throw, which was low and past first base. Josh Donaldson then lined a single to right and, two batters into the game, Toronto had a lead.
Gausman allowed the first two to reach in the second but got a pop out and double play ball to end that threat. He was at 39 pitches over the first two frames.
Meanwhile, Toronto starter Marco Estrada was quite sharp early on. He retired the first nine O’s to face him on just 30 pitches. He needed 12 in the first, nine in the second and just nine more in the third frame.
Before today’s game, O’s manager Buck Showalter talked about his team facing Estrada tonight. He is 4-2 with an ERA of 2.41 that ranks fourth best in the American League and Estrada has an excellent changeup.
“Very quietly this guy is one of the best pitchers in the American League,” Showalter said. “You can put his stats up with anybody. He throws about 50 percent fastballs but he has such great sell - the arm speed on the changeup. It’s a fastball until about five feet in front of home plate.
“Plus he commands it and he has good command of his fastball. Everybody says, ‘Why not just sit on the changeup?’ You can’t. He’s only throwing it about 20 percent of the time, but when he does it is for a big out. And he’s never going to give in, in the count. He’s a fastball, cutter, curve, changeup guy. And he has great command of all of them. He is as big a challenge as you want to face on a given night. He is very confident throwing the changeup to left and right-handed hitters.”
Teams exchange runs: Toronto extended its lead to 2-0 in the fourth on Michael Saunders’ leadoff solo homer. It was his 10th. O’s pitchers had gone six games without yielding a home run until his blast to right.
The O’s ended Estrada’s no-hitter and shutout bid on one swing in the fifth. Jonathan Schoop homered to left on an 0-2 cutter and it cut the Toronto lead to 2-1. That was homer No. 9 for Schoop. The O’s then got back-to-back singles by Nolan Reimold and Ryan Flaherty off Estrada. But the right-hander got Adam Jones on a fly ball and fanned Hyun Soo Kim on a changeup to keep the one-run lead.
Longball for the lead: Chris Davis is getting hot again. He homered tonight for the third game in a row. After Manny Machado walked to lead off the top of the sixth, Davis blasted a two-run homer to right-center and the Orioles took a 3-2 lead. Davis drove in three runs in last night’s win.
For Davis, it was No. 14 on the year. He has 33 homers against Toronto pitchers since 2008, more than any other player. He has a major league leading 173 homers since 2012.
Tied again: An RBI single by Russell Martin in the sixth tied this game 3-3. Gausman went 6 1/3 innings allowing eight hits and three runs (two earned). He threw 106 pitches. He will remain winless on the season after tonight.
The game went to the eighth inning tied 3-3. These teams have played four games previously this year and all four were decided by one run. The Orioles are 7-1 when tied after seven innings.
Jays win in 10: Edwin Encarnacion led off the last of the 10th with a homer to right off Brad Brach and Toronto produced a 10-inning, 4-3 walk-off win. Encarnacion hit a 3-2 pitch, a 97 mph fastball for the win. The O’s five-game win streak ends as they fall to 36-24. All five games between the teams this year have been decided by a single run.
Check back later for postgame quotes.