TORONTO - During their recent West Coast road trip, the Orioles went 1-6 and were outscored 59-29. Then they lost two straight at home to the San Diego Padres and gave up nine homers and 18 runs. But since then the club has played much better, a stretch that began with those back-to-back 13-0 wins last weekend over Cleveland.
Today the Orioles backed right-hander Andrew Cashner with two homers and one big inning as they beat Toronto 8-1, their fifth win in the last eight games. The Orioles improved to 27-61 overall, 16-30 on the road and 4-1 at Rogers Centre. Last season they went 0-10 in Toronto.
Baltimore has its first three-game win streak since the start of the year when they won four in a row to go to 4-1. They can match that season-high win streak and complete a three-game sweep on Sunday afternoon.
The Orioles had lost 11 straight road series and ended that run of futility by taking the first two games of this three-game set.
Cashner has been a real roll since the calendar flipped to June and that continued today. Over seven innings he gave up three hits and one run on 88 pitches. He needed just 32 to retire the first nine in order. He walked none and fanned four, improving to 9-4 with an ERA of 3.83.
Cashner has a 1.41 ERA over his past five starts and has recorded 10 of the Orioles’ 23 quality starts. His nine wins is five more than he had in 28 starts in 2018.
“I just think a mix of pitches and the velo with his fastball (has been good),” manager Brandon Hyde said. “It’s a mid 90s fastball through seven innings today. He’s just commanding and really throwing well. He’s got nine wins on a team that is way under .500. Really impressive to keep us in games the way he has.”
Cashner added: “My fastball command, I think, has been really good. I think I’ve done a good job of commanding the upper part of the zone with the fastball. But I think the biggest thing is getting ahead. My changeup has really come along in the last month. I’ve been moving my fingers and playing with it. There are certain times I try to get it almost straight down like a split and other times I try to fade it.”
During their 5-3 run, the Orioles have scored 53 runs. At the same time, their starting pitchers are 4-2 with an ERA of 2.05 in that span.
Today the Birds scored five in the fourth to snap a 0-0 tie. The inning featured four hits, two Toronto errors and the 20th home run by Renato Núñez. He blasted a two-run shot with an exit velocity of 109 mph off losing pitcher Clayton Richard. Anthony Santander’s single made it 3-0 and the O’s added two more on Keon Broxton’s bloop RBI double and Richie Martin’s RBI groundout.
Núñez, who has a team-leading 49 RBIs, became the third Oriole age 25 or younger to hit 20 or more homers by the All-Star break. Boog Powell first did that in 1964 and Manny Machado in 2018.
“When he gets hot, he’s pretty hot,” said Hyde. “Hit a tough month there, but when he stays on the ball and has a middle of the field approach, that’s when his homers stay fair to left field. He’s just got a ton of power and his swing plays for the home run. He’s got 20 at 25 years old, pretty cool.”
The O’s got RBI singles in the sixth from Stevie Wilkerson and eighth from Santander, who had a 3-for-4, two-RBI game. Wilkerson’s solo homer in the ninth was No. 7 and completed the scoring.
Jimmy Yacabonis struck out the side in the eighth and Shawn Armstrong pitched the ninth to complete a three-pitcher, three-hitter on 115 pitches. Jonathan Villar went 2-for-4 and scored three runs and is batting .412 (14-for-34) his past nine games.
Toronto (33-57) had scored five or more runs in 14 of 15 games beginning this series and was averaging 6.4 runs per game its previous 22 games. But in this series, O’s pitchers have held the Blue Jays to two runs on seven hits.