TORONTO - For the fourth time on this road trip and the eighth time in the last nine games, the Orioles got a quality start tonight. But once again, they lost due to their underperforming offense. They are 2-7 in those nine games.
Toronto beat the Orioles 5-1 in front of 28,863 at Rogers Centre. They’ve taken the first two in this series after the Orioles won two in a row against the Mets at Citi Field in New York. The Orioles fall to 19-43 overall, with losses in nine of their last 11, and to 9-25 in road games.
The Orioles were held to five hits tonight by the combination of starter J.A. Happ, who went seven innings, and the Toronto bullpen - and three of them came from Craig Gentry. The rest of the lineup went 2-for-28. The Orioles were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. They’ve scored eight runs in four games on this road trip and 22 in the past 12 games.
Right-hander Andrew Cashner went six innings, allowing nine hits and three runs, but took a loss and his record is 2-8 with an ERA of 4.98. He delivered his sixth quality start of the year, but just the third in nine games. He kept his team in the game, but takes another loss, and the club is 3-10 in his starts this year.
Last night, the teams exchanged single runs in the first inning and that happened tonight in the second. Danny Valencia and Mark Trumbo drew walks around a flyout. Valencia scored when Toronto tried to turn a 6-4-3 double play, with second baseman Devon Travis throwing past first base. The Orioles’ only run tonight came without a hit and was unearned.
When catcher Russell Martin homered to left in the home second, the game was tied. Martin hit a 94 mph fastball on a 3-0 pitch for his sixth home run. Cashner left one up and in and it went 371 feet to tie it.
The Blue Jays added single runs in the fifth and sixth to lead 3-1. Randal Grichuk led off the fifth with his fourth homer. He hit a 91 mph fastball that was also up and in. Martin’s RBI single an inning later gave him a two-RBI night and Toronto a two-run lead.
Cashner had not allowed a homer his past three games and just two in the last five starts before allowing two tonight. He gave up 15 all of last year and has yielded 13 this season as his rate of homers per nine innings has jumped from 0.8 to 1.5.
Toronto added a run in the seventh off lefty Tanner Scott, whose fastball touched 99 and 100 mph. An RBI triple by Teoscar Hernández made it 4-1. In the home eighth, Kevin Pillar homered off Mike Wright Jr. Toronto had lost 10 of its previous 11 home games before the Orioles got to town. They try for a third win in this series on Saturday afternoon.
Britton note: Zach Britton threw an inning tonight for Triple-A Norfolk. He gave up a run and two hits, throwing 14 pitches, 10 for strikes. He could be activated by the Orioles as soon as Monday.
Harvey note: Earlier we mentioned in this space that Double-A Bowie right-hander Hunter Harvey was scratched from his scheduled start tonight because he is dealing with “posterior shoulder instability,” which was confirmed by a club official. Manager Buck Showalter was not ready to talk about Harvey’s injury after the game, but did say it did not happen pitching.
Showalter on Happ shutting down his club: “He’s one of the rare guys now who pitches about 70 percent with his fastball. He can go a while with it. He’s got great late life, he’s got a good delivery with it, he hides it well and it’s something he’s been doing for a while. You couple that with the fact that we haven’t been swinging the bats very well. It’s a double-edged sword, a good pitcher and we’re not swinging the bats well.”
Showalter on the rotation putting together a nice run but not getting many wins out of it: “Even with Darren (O’Day) coming back, Zach had a good strong outing tonight as far as physically goes. That always bodes well when you can get back those two guys, but we’re not going to sit there and try to win 1-0 and 2-1 ballgames all year in the American League East. It’s just not a good combination.”
Cashner on his start: “Felt all right. I was a little stiff out there, but made some pitches when I needed to. I gave up nine hits, but I thought that the two hard-hit balls were both the home runs. The biggest thing is getting my sinker back down and away and locating that. I think everything else will come back on that.”
Cashner on pitching again with little offense and whether there is less margin for error?: “Yeah, I mean, you can definitely see the record, it definitely shows. But for me, I try not to look at that too much. For me, it’s all about executing pitches and giving my team a chance to win every night. I think that is kind of the one thing I’ve done over the course of my career. I’ve kept my team in the game and given us a chance to win every night. I still believe in all those guys and we’ve just got to turn it around.”
Cashner on giving up homers that just clear the fence: “It has always been down the foul lines. It’s been tough. I hate giving up homers more than anybody. But it’s just one of those things where you just have to keep grinding and execute better. Maybe if I execute better early in the count, that doesn’t happen.”
Gentry on the frustration on offense and crashing into the wall in the seventh: “I mean, absolutely. The goal is to compete and win the game. The last two nights have been tough, but you have to commend the other team, too. It’s a tough game, but we have to keep fighting. It hurts (hitting the wall), but it went away quick. I don’t think I face-planted or otherwise my nose would be broken. I’m good.”