Since the Toronto Blue Jays had scored 34 runs in their last three games against Orioles pitching, a starter holding them to two runs over five innings today was a step forward.
Right-hander Yovani Gallardo returned to the O’s rotation this afternoon for the first time since April 22 and held Toronto in check as the Orioles posted a 4-2 win to even the series at a victory each. The Orioles improved to 39-28, winning for the 11th time in their last 17 games.
After being outscored 12-2 in the first inning of the last five games between these teams, today the O’s took a 2-0 lead in the first.
Jonathan Schoop doubled to left and scored when Manny Machado doubled to right-center. But Schoop stopped rounding third and later came in when the Blue Jays threw wildly to third base. There was no error or RBI on the play, as Schoop scored on the throw to third. Machado advanced to third on a groundout and scored on a passed ball for the 2-0 edge.
The Blue Jays cut that to 2-1 in the third when Ezequiel Carrera hit a solo homer off Gallardo. It was his third of the season. The lead was back at two runs when Schoop hit his 11th homer with one out in the third inning. It was back to one run at 3-2 when Devon Travis doubled home a Toronto run in the top of the fourth.
The O’s added a key insurance run in the eighth. Schoop and Machado hit back-to-back singles to put runners on first and third. With one out, Carrera could not hang on to a flare off the bat of Mark Trumbo in short right field. He recovered to get a force at second, but the O’s took the 4-2 lead on Trumbo’s 51st RBI.
Gallardo had a decent return to the rotation. Over five innings, he gave up five hits and two runs with four walks and five strikeouts, lowering his ERA to 6.25. Over four career regular season starts versus Toronto, he has an ERA of 1.78.
The Orioles bullpen took it from there. Mychal Givens pitched two scoreless innings on 20 pitches, retiring the Blue Jays in the sixth and seventh. Brad Brach fanned two in a 1-2-3 eighth and Zach Britton pitched the ninth for his 21st save in 21 chances.
Britton had a wild ride in the ninth. With one out, he allowed a single and issued back-to-back walks. Struggling to throw strikes, he suddenly found the zone against Josh Donaldson, getting him to bounce into a game-ending double play to secure the win.
Now 25-12 at home and 17-13 in games versus the American League East, the O’s host Toronto in the series finale on Sunday afternoon. Chris Tillman (9-1, 2.87 ERA) faces right-hander Marcus Stroman (6-2, 4.76 ERA).