Akin solid again and O’s get rare AL East win over Toronto

The Orioles had to wonder whether lefty Keegan Akin could put together another good start to follow up his recent seven-inning outing. As the game wore on, they also had to wonder if they would get to Hyun Jin Ryu, a pitcher who has finished in the top three of the last two Cy Young Award votes, once in each league.

The answers were yes and yes.

And they helped the Orioles pick up a rare win against an American League East opponent.

The Orioles (41-90) beat the Toronto Blue Jays 4-2 tonight at Rogers Centre and they won against an AL East foe for the first time since Aug. 2, snapping a 16-game losing streak within their division.

They also snapped a four-game losing streak and won for just the third time in their last 26 games.

Akin allowed just a solo homer to No. 9 hitter Danny Jansen over five strong innings. He pitched a 1-2-3 last of the first on just nine pitches. He then put up a zero in the second, but needed 23 more pitches to do that. Akin walked the first and third batters of the inning, but he pitched out of that two-on, one-out jam. He got Randal Grichuk to fly to right and struck out third baseman Kevin Smith swinging on a 92 mph fastball.

Akin would allow the homer by Jansen leading off the Toronto third as he hit No. 6 on an 0-1 fastball and the Blue Jays took a 1-0 lead. But he would then get the top of the order with three straight outs.

Akin fanned two after allowing a leadoff double in the fourth by Bo Bichette, and Austin Hays made a running, sliding catch in right field against Grichuk to end the inning and strand that runner.

Akin improved to 2-8 with a 6.90 ERA, throwing 85 pitches. He allowed just two hits with three walks and five strikeouts. After going winless in his first 18 appearances and 11 starts of 2021, he now has back-to-back wins versus the Angels and Jays. In those two games he allowed five hits and two runs over 12 innings.

Tonight he used his four-seam fastball 59 percent of the time, topping out at 95 mph, and he added his changeup 26 percent.

Ryu came into this outing off a four-start stretch in which he twice allowed seven runs and pitched to an ERA of 7.84 with an OPS against of .859. And then he held the Orioles hitless for 5 2/3 innings.

When he got Cedric Mullins to pop out there were two outs and none on in the Baltimore sixth and he had retired 15 batters in a row. He was rolling. And then he wasn’t.

Four straight Orioles reached to produce three runs and knock Ryu from the game. The O’s went ahead 3-1.

Ryan Mountcastle doubled to right for Baltimore’s first hit, then scored on Hays’ single. Hays took second on the throw home. After a walk to Anthony Santander, Ramón Urías doubled to left on a 2-1 changeup to score two runs.

Urias-Swings-Gray-Sidebar.jpgIt was a clutch hit by Urías, who began today batting .345 with runners in scoring position, going 20-for-58 with 24 RBIs.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit a solo homer off Jorge López in the sixth and Toronto was down just 3-2. The O’s got that run back on a Jahmai Jones’ RBI single in the seventh.

In the last of the seventh, Tyler Wells got a huge out. He came on to face Guerrero with two on and two outs and got him to line out to center on a first-pitch slider. A clutch out by Wells to retire Guerrero with the tying runs aboard. He then threw a scoreless eighth. Cole Sulser pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to record his sixth save.

The Orioles had been 13-42 against AL East teams this year and 3-7 against Toronto. They were 18-40 against the Blue Jays since the start of the 2018 season.

But they came up with the win tonight and can win the series on Wednesday night at Rogers Centre.

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