By Dan Connolly, The Baltimore Sun
12:07 AM EDT, June 15, 2011
Maybe it's going through customs, having to exchange currency or playing under a retractable roof, but things are seemingly always off-kilter for the Orioles whenever they travel north of the border.
Life in Canada was no different Tuesday, as the Toronto Blue Jays allowed the Orioles to crawl back before winning, 6-5, in 11 innings on Adam Lind's game-ending homer that bounced off the facade under the third level in right field. The homer came on the second pitch of the 11th from Koji Uehara (1-1), who had thrown a perfect 10th.
"It was a splitter that was up in the zone, and it's something to where, if it has its normal action, it probably is a ground ball," said Orioles catcher Matt Wieters, who tied the score in the eighth with a two-run homer. "But he made a mistake. And give Lind credit, he hit it."
It was the 15th consecutive time the Orioles have lost at Rogers Centre, dating to Aug. 7, 2009. The Orioles (30-34) are 10-37 in Toronto since the start of the 2006 season. They are 3-6 in extra-inning games this year while the Blue Jays are 7-2 with four walk-off homers.
The 15-game winning streak for the Blue Jays (33-34) is a franchise record for consecutive home victories against one opponent. Their previous high was 14 wins versus -- you guessed it -- the Orioles from 1998 to 2000.
"We have had our struggles for a while. Period," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "We don't look at some place [being tough]. Our guys, other than going through customs here, enjoy playing here."
The Orioles came close to breaking the skid, rallying from an early three-run deficit and eventually tying the score at 5 on Wieters' homer against Toronto reliever Marc Rzepczynski. The inning started with Rzepczynski's issuing a leadoff walk to swing-at-anything designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero, just Guerrero's seventh free pass of 2011.
Wieters' sixth homer of the season was the fourth of his career at Rogers Centre, tying his personal record for most homers at an opponent's stadium (he also has four at Yankee Stadium).
After that swing, the Orioles went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position in the final four innings.
In the eighth, the Orioles had their best chance to break the tie when reliever Casey Janssen made an errant pickoff attempt of pinch-runner Felix Pie, who sprinted from first to third on the error. But Janssen struck out Mark Reynolds and Robert Andino.
"That was a kicker there, a kick in the pants," Showalter said. "Just so many good things happened to get back in that game. We just couldn't get over the hump."
They also had Nick Markakis on second with one out in the ninth, but Adam Jones struck out and Guerrero popped out to the catcher. They had runners on first and second with one out in the 10th, but Jon Rauch struck out Reynolds and Andino flied out. Shawn Camp (1-1) picked up the win with one scoreless inning of relief.
"For me it is [frustrating] because I had a few of them and I didn't come through," Andino said. "The pitchers kept us in it; we just didn't come through when we needed to."
The day didn't start smoothly for the Orioles with the announcement that venerable pitching coach Mark Connor had stepped down for personal reasons and had been replaced by Rick Adair, the club's bullpen coach.
Perhaps it was fitting that in Adair's first game in his new job, the Orioles would hand the ball to right-hander Chris Jakubauskas to make his second start of the season. Adair, who was the Seattle Mariners' pitching coach in 2009 and 2010, coached Jakubauskas in Seattle and pushed for the Orioles to sign him this offseason to a minor league deal.
Jakubauskas wasn't originally supposed to start Tuesday, but the Orioles juggled their rotation, pushing lefty Zach Britton back to Friday as part of their plan to limit the rookie's innings this season.
After throwing five shutout innings and walking just one June 7 against the Oakland Athletics, Jakubauskas couldn't muster the same control against the free-swinging Blue Jays. He allowed four runs on seven hits and four walks in 51/3 innings. He struck out two and added a hit batter and a wild pitch.
"I didn't have my best stuff tonight. It was kind of one of those nights where I was kind of all over the place," Jakubauskas said. "I was pitching 1-0, 2-0 to a lot of guys, and you can't really do that. It puts you in a hole."
The Jays scored once in the first against Jakubauskas on a double by Lind and again in the third when Yunel Escobar raced home on a wild throw to first by Andino, who was attempting to turn a double play.
"I just had a bad grip, a bad grip and I threw it like that. I should have held it," Andino said. "But mistakes are part of the game, and you have to learn from them."
Toronto scored twice in the fourth on Escobar's RBI single and a high bouncer by former Oriole Corey Patterson that first baseman Derrek Lee fumbled. He then had to get the sure out at first instead of attempting to throw out Jayson Nix at home.
Jakubauskas managed just one perfect inning and allowed at least one runner in scoring position in the other five. He was pulled after giving up a single and a one-out walk in the sixth. Reliever Michael Gonzalez struck out a batter, walked another and induced an inning-ending groundout to limit the damage.
The Orioles jumped on the board first when J.J. Hardy led off the game with a single and moved to third on a single by Markakis, who was caught in a rundown and tagged out while trying to get to second.
Jones followed with a sacrifice fly to center for the 1-0 lead against Carlos Villanueva, who retired 16 of the next 21 batters he faced. Villanueva was not charged with another run until he was out of the game.
He left in the seventh, after Luke Scott's bunt single to third base -- the second of the night for the left fielder, who took advantage of the left-side opening created by a right-side defensive shift -- and Reynolds' walk.
Jays reliever Jason Frasor entered and threw a wild pitch that moved the runners to second and third. Andino hit a sacrifice fly to right, and Hardy followed with an RBI double to cut the score to 4-3. Frasor got Markakis and Jones to ground out.
The Jays tacked on a run in the seventh when Aaron Hill hit a solo homer against Jeremy Accardo, who was making his return to Toronto after five seasons with the Blue Jays. It could have been worse, but after J.P. Arencibia broke a 0-for-12 skid with a leadoff double, he was thrown out by Wieters while attempting to move to third on a wild pitch.
Hill's homer was the only run allowed by the Orioles' bullpen -- Jim Johnson threw two scoreless innings -- until Lind crushed Uehara's final pitch and ended the three-hour, 47-minute marathon.
The Orioles have dropped three consecutive games after winning four straight last week.
"It could have come out different, but that's the way the game goes, it goes up and down," Andino said. "We've got to put that behind us."
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