TORONTO - For the Orioles today, it started with their starter. Right-hander Mike Wright walked a season-high five batters and O’s pitching never could recover. Even after the Orioles rallied from 3-0 down to lead 4-3 in the sixth on Manny Machado’s homer, the Toronto Blue Jays kept teeing off. O’s pitchers fueled that with eight walks and a hit batter.
For one day at least, Rogers Centre was once again a house of horrors for O’s hurlers.
On a day where manager Buck Showalter said he had three relievers he wouldn’t use, Wright gave up six hits and four runs over five-plus innings. Then T.J. McFarland allowed five runs, five hits and two walks over two innings, and Brian Duensing allowed two homers in the eighth as Toronto whipped the Orioles 11-6.
After Thursday’s win, which gave the Orioles a five-game win streak, Toronto has won the last two games in this four-game series that ends Sunday.
Will the Orioles have enough pitchers to get through that game? We may see one or more fresh arms from the minors by first pitch on Sunday.
Showalter said Wright’s command issues - he threw just 49 strikes among 103 pitches - meant trouble for the right-hander and the team.
“Not only him, but the team has to battle,” he said. “I mean, standing out there on a hot day on that turf. That is why what our guys did offensively is that much more impressive. That’s a grind for everybody. Not just the pitcher - the catcher, everybody.
“Mike he has so much want-to, sometimes it gets in his way. But you know, command. He was missing. The effectiveness he did have was because of his wildness.”
The lack of depth in the bullpen today also left Showalter with fewer options to turn to in a relief role.
“That is what we said before the game, obviously. Yeah, about three we couldn’t use. Won’t use. That is why they are good and why they are healthy,” he said.
Showalter was asked if he will need a fresh arm for Sunday’s game.
“We’ll see,” he said. “We’ll talk about it. I was trying to save a bullet for tomorrow and that was (Vance) Worley. Really don’t have (Dylan) Bundy tomorrow either and we’ll wait to check with Mychal (Givens). Really don’t like pushing that envelope. And, (Brad) Brach should be OK. It’s one of the challenges of not having Darren (O’Day). We’ve been able to overcome it. We’re a right-hander short down there, but hopefully he’ll get back. Some good things happened with J.J. (Hardy) down there (in Florida), got news on that today, so hopefully that is starting to move a little bit. He had a real good day.”
Showalter, though, was not ready to add much to what he said on Hardy.
“I know a little more, but I’m going to wait and see how the next couple of days go before we go there,” he said.
Edwin Encarnacion, whose walk-off homer ended last night’s game, today went 3-for-3 with two homers, a double, two walks and five RBIs. Over his last four at-bats in this series, he has three home runs. In his last 10 games, he has five homers and 13 RBIs.
“He’s a good hitter. This isn’t any surprise,” Showalter said. “We make the pitches where we have been making them on him, he’s going to make you pay. We are just not making very good pitches and he’s a good hitter. That’s a bad combination.”
As for Wright, he felt his mechanics got out of whack today.
“That’s what I was thinking about and that’s what was bad,” he said. “In my last start, I worked on mechanics and it worked out, and today I was out there thinking too much about mechanics and it did not work out. There’s just a fine line between the two. I thought I figured it out a little bit towards the end. That last base hit was tough. It was still a ground ball and I was still one pitch away from getting out of that and keeping my team within the ballgame. Every time I walk somebody, it seems like they score. It seems to be a recurring theme. I’ve got to cut down on the walks.”
Wright gave up an RBI double to Encarnacion and walked him twice.
“He’s one of the best hitters I think I’ve faced,” Wright said. “He’s really good, but he’s also got holes. There’s a reason he’s batting .240. I think we give him too much credit.
“It (his outing) was one pitch away from not being a rough one. I don’t consider this a rough one. When I came out of the game, we were still in a good situation. Everybody seems to be down, but I’m still very positive about today.”
Meanwhile, McFarland knew he had a bad day and simply said so. He said a sinker to Encarnacion caught too much of the plate and he hit it for a three-run homer in the sixth that gave Toronto an 8-4 lead.
“I wasn’t hitting the strike zone as much as I normally do. Those two walks there in the sixth were costly. Those are the two guys I needed to get out,” McFarland said.
“It’s real tough. Obviously, our offense is incredible right now, and really, as a pitching staff, all we need to do is kind of put up some zeros when we need it, and today I wasn’t able to do that. Mike pitched a hell of a game and I was trying to come in and finish the sixth for him and couldn’t pull through. Even later in the game, the offense showed that they’re going to keep scoring and that’s what hurts the most, that as a pitching staff we know the offense is going to be there, so we just kind of need to put up zeros and I wasn’t able to do it.
“That’s a situation where when I’m called upon, I’ve got to come through. But I put in a lot of hard work for those situations to come up and I’m just going to look at video and come back tomorrow and try to get better at it.”
The Orioles bullpen allowed seven earned runs today, its most since Sept. 30, 2015, also against Toronto. The 11 runs allowed tied a season high and the Orioles lost their third game when scoring six or more runs. Toronto is 14-7 over its last 21 games.
The series concludes Sunday at 1:07 p.m. with Ubaldo Jimenez (3-6, 6.21 ERA) facing Jays right-hander Aaron Sanchez (5-1, 2.91 ERA).