TORONTO -- Miguel Gonzalez's ability to control his emotions on the mound in tough situations is one of the reasons he has become a quality starting pitcher in the major leagues.
But following the Orioles' 9-3 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night at the Rogers Centre, there was some frustration in the right-hander's voice.
“It's pretty frustrating,” he said. “We're better than that, as a whole, as a team, and it's going to come around.”
After dominating Toronto for five innings, Gonzalez didn't survive the sixth, as deep counts led to another premature exit from an Orioles starting pitcher.
“Yeah it bothers me because as starters we want to go as far as we can to keep our bullpen fresh,” Gonzalez said. “That just didn't happen tonight, and I wasn't too happy about it.”
That left the Orioles' overused bullpen out on a limb — and in a tied game, the relievers allowed a pair of three-run homers in an unsightly six-run eighth inning.
With the game tied at 3, right-handed reliever Evan Meek (0-1) yielded a three-run homer to Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie.
Meek, who pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings Sunday, left a 1-1 low fastball over the plate that Lawrie crushed over the center-field fence.
“Bad pitches, bad locations,” Meek said.
Later in the inning, Melky Cabrera hit a three-run homer off right-hander Josh Stinson, taking a 2-0 fastball into the Orioles bullpen beyond the left-field wall.
Before the game, the Orioles made a roster move to add an eighth reliever — left-hander T.J. McFarland. And three relievers weren't available after pitching in consecutive games over a 20-hour span the past two days in Boston.
On Tuesday, the bullpen reached a breaking point.
“I just don't want to put them in harm's way,” Showalter said. “Sometimes we are rested and haven't pitched well out of the ‘pen, too. That's a very convenient excuse if you choose to use it, but our guys won't do that.”
One of Showalter's greatest strengths is maneuvering his bullpen through stretches of short outings from his starters, but recently he's walking to the mound more than he'd like. He has made it clear that his starters need to go deeper into games.
“Guys down there know how the bullpen works,” Meek said. “There is going to be times when starters are going deep into games and the bullpen is not going to be used, and there's going to be times where they need to be used early. We all know that. It's just a matter of being consistent, going out there and getting outs. And obviously today it was a struggle. Just not a good day.”
After holding Toronto to two hits over his first five innings, Gonzalez ran into trouble in the sixth. In four starts this season, Gonzalez has yet to pitch more than six innings.
On a night when he recorded a season-high seven strikeouts and had control of all his pitches, Gonzalez was pulled after 5 2/3 innings, allowing three runs — all coming on Edwin Encarnacion's three-run homer in the sixth — and four hits.
“Miguel was real close there. We do a couple things differently, he probably pitches six or seven innings,” Showalter said. “He had good stuff, obviously. He gave us a good chance to win. I can't fault his effort. It's not easy to go through these lineups night after night, but he's done it more often than not.”
Regardless, it marked the fifth time in the past six games that an Orioles starter hasn't lasted six full innings. Over the first five games of this seven-game road trip, Orioles starters have compiled a 5.27 ERA.
After blowing 5-0 and 6-0 leads in Boston the past two days, the Orioles (9-10) couldn't hold an early 3-0 lead Tuesday.
The Blue Jays took advantage of a fielding error by second baseman Steve Lombardozzi to lead off the bottom of the sixth inning. Jose Bautista followed with a single to center to bring Encarnacion to the plate.
Encarnacion then took a 1-1 fastball from Gonzalez well over the center-field fence, hitting off the facade of the second deck. It was Encarnacion's 24th career homer against the Orioles, the most he has hit against any team.
Before the fifth inning, umpires checked Gonzalez's glove at the request of the Toronto dugout, but found nothing.
Through five innings, the Orioles were frustrated by R.A. Dickey's fluttering knuckleball under a closed roof at the Rogers Centre.
Held to just two hits by Dickey through five innings, the Orioles took a 3-0 lead when Nelson Cruz sent a 1-1 fastball over the left-center-field fence for a three-run homer.
It was Cruz's team-high fourth homer of the season and gave him five straight games with an RBI. It was also the sixth home run that Dickey has allowed in four starts against the Orioles, dating back to the beginning of the 2013 season.
With the score tied at 3, the Orioles chased Dickey from the game in the seventh inning after Lombardozzi's leadoff single and Nick Markakis' ground-rule double.
But the Orioles were unable to plate the go-ahead run. They loaded the bases with one out when Blue Jays left-hander Brett Cecil (Maryland) walked Chris Davis, giving him a career-high 18 straight games in which he has safely reached base.
Cecil rebounded, striking out Jones and Steve Clevenger to end the inning. Blue Jays right-hander Steve Delabar (2-0) pitched a scoreless eighth for the win.
The Orioles stranded 10 base runners and were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
“We had some opportunities, but they threw the ball good out of their bullpen,” Clevenger said. “Cecil came in, and he threw the ball really well, made some good pitches for them. That's baseball, and that happens. But we're going to get after it tomorrow, and we're going to forget about today.”
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