His pinch-hit two-run shot off Toronto closer Roberto Osuna turned a potential 2-1 loss into a 3-2 Orioles win tonight in front of 44,668 at Rogers Centre. The Orioles improved to 86-72 and ensured they will hold onto sole possesion of the second American League wild card through tonight.
Down 2-1 in the ninth, Jonathan Schoop singled with one out and Michael Bourn pinch-ran. Then Kim hit for Nolan Reimold. During his at-bat, Bourn stole second. Kim fouled off several pitches and then drilled a 3-2 pitch over the right field wall for his sixth homer on the ninth pitch of the at-bat.
Zach Britton came on in the bottom of the ninth to record the last three outs for his 47th save of the season.
Even though the Orioles were held to three runs or fewer for the 10th time in 11 games, they had just enough runs to win tonight.
Much earlier, the Orioles provided a gift run and 1-0 lead to Toronto in the last of the first. After left-hander Francisco Liriano retired the Orioles in order on 14 pitches in the first, the Blue Jays took the lead.
Leadoff hitter Ezequiel Carrera bounced one to pitcher Chris Tillman’s right. He fielded it running toward first and shuffled a quick throw to first baseman Chris Davis at the bag. But Davis could not handle the throw for an error. Moments later, an errant Tillman pickoff throw sent Carrera to third on the second error in the inning. Edwin Encarnacion’s deep fly ball to center went for a sac fly, his AL-leading 127th RBI, and a 1-0 lead on an unearned run without a hit.
Toronto added a run in the second on Troy Tulowitzki’s double, Michael Saunders’ single and Kevin Pillar’s sac fly for a 2-0 lead.
The Orioles’ frustrations on offense continued big time earlier in this game in the fourth and fifth innings. Adam Jones and Davis singled to start the fourth. But then Liriano struck out Manny Machado, Mark Trumbo and Trey Mancini.
An inning later, the Orioles loaded the bases with two outs on two singles and a walk. That brought up Davis. He was called out on strikes on a 2-2 pitch at the top of the zone. It was Liriano’s ninth strikeout.
Through the fifth inning, the Orioles were 2-for-14 in this series with runners in scoring position with 21 strikeouts over 14 innings.
Tillman gave his team a solid start, coming an out short of providing the Orioles with just their second quality start in this ballpark this year. He went 5 2/3 innings, allowing six hits and two runs (one earned) with three walks and two strikeouts, throwing 92 pitches.
Baltimore finally scored, but just once, in the top of the eighth. Trumbo blasted a solo homer to left off reliever Jason Grilli. It was No. 46 for the big league home run leader. That tied Jim Gentile, who hit 46 in 1961, for fifth on the O’s single-season homers list. Pedro Alvarez then pinch-hit for Mancini and doubled, but Matt Wieters flied out to end that threat.
Liriano held the O’s scoreless for 6 1/3 scoreless innings on six hits. He walked one and fanned 10, throwing 104 pitches and has thrown 12 1/3 scoreless innigns over his past two starts against the Yankees and Orioles.
After this dramatic win, the Orioles could tie Toronto for the first wild card spot with a victory on Thursday night. Right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez (7-12, 5.71 ERA) pitches against right-hander Marcus Stroman (9-9, 4.34 ERA).