TORONTO - The Orioles lost a game today, but won a series at Rogers Centre, and as they hit their All-Star break, they left Toronto encouraged by their recent performance and hopeful for the second half.
After beating the Blue Jays 4-1 Friday and 8-1 Saturday, they lost 6-1 today to hit the break with a 27-62 record. They have gone 5-4 the last nine games, winning series against the Indians and Blue Jays.
“I think we played well the first two games here, and you win a series on the road, you can’t be disappointed about that,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Obviously, when you win the first two, you’d love to get the third one. But, yeah, I feel pretty good about how we played the last three series, and we’d love to see it continue.”
Trey Mancini, who went 0-for-4, had similar thoughts.
“Thought we played pretty well on this road trip overall,” he said. “Still need to clean up a few things. But especially the first two games in Toronto, really happy with how we played. Pitching was pretty good overall on the trip. Really encouraging going into the break.”
The Orioles had stayed pretty upbeat in their clubhouse through the year, even amid a lot of losses, but the recent wins seem to have been a boost for the players.
“Definitely,” said Mancini. “For a while we were struggling to do basic things right and I think we’ve cleaned that up a lot. We kind of had a team meeting a couple of weeks ago, and since then we’ve been cleaning things up. Still some work to do. Such as baserunning mistakes and little things in the field. But overall, I think, we’ve played nicely over the last few games.”
Today the Orioles were shut down by Toronto right-hander Trent Thornton, who went six scoreless innings on three hits, with no walks and five strikeouts to improve to 3-6 with a 4.85 ERA. The Orioles, who had scored 21 runs their last three games and 53 in the last eight, were blanked today until Chance Sisco hit a solo homer to left off reliever David Phelps leading off the seventh.
O’s starter Asher Wojciechowski, making his second start for the team, gave up a two-run homer in the first to Lourdes Gurriel Jr. for a 2-0 Toronto lead. He allowed Danny Jansen’s RBI double in the fourth and was knocked from the game by Freddy Galvis’ one-out triple in the fifth.
Wojciechowski went 4 1/3 innings, allowing four hits and three runs with three walks and six strikeouts. He is 0-2 with a 6.52 ERA through two outings.
“I thought he gave us a chance,” Hyde said. “Pitched into the fifth inning, a day when you have your entire bullpen available. So I thought he did a nice job. Just missed location on the homer in the first inning, but besides that he threw the ball good.”
Said Wojciechowski: “I just need to be better in the first. But throwing 30, 31 pitches (actually 33) in the first inning and not executing that pitch to Gurriel and giving up that two-run homer. I should have gone to my slider earlier in the first inning.”
Wojciechowski was asked his impression of the Orioles after being here a short time, and also about his chance to stay in the rotation in the second half.
“Impressions are - we have a lot of grinders,” he said. “I know the season hasn’t gone the way everyone wanted it to, but we have a lot of guys competing and giving it their all. I know my (pitching) lines haven’t been what I want them to be, but I’ve been able to keep the score close. And just looking forward to my next start and giving it all I have.”
The Orioles had held Toronto batters to just two runs and seven hits in the series’ first two games, but Gurriel’s 419-foot blast got them started today and they built a 6-0 lead before the O’s got on the board. Baltimore went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position, falling to 7-47 when they score four runs or fewer.
Hyde said postgame that he didn’t want to pitch Mychal Givens today. He’s still sore from the dive he made to get that out at home plate on Wednesday at Tampa Bay.
“I thought the best-case scenario was not to use him, and now he has an extra four days (to rest),” said Hyde.
Following today’s game, the team optioned right-hander David Hess to Triple-A Norfolk. The club is expected to add recent acquisition right-hander Aaron Brooks to the roster when the second half begins Friday.
Now John Means heads to Cleveland to represent the Orioles in Tuesday’s All-Star Game. For the rest of the players, the season resumes Friday at Oriole Park with a four-game, three-day series versus Tampa Bay.
Hyde said pregame that Dylan Bundy will start the first game out of the break, with Means pitching in one of the doubleheader games Saturday and Andrew Cashner going on Sunday. So the starter in one of Saturday’s games is not yet known.