The Baltimore Orioles beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 6-4, on Friday, April 14. (Ulysses Muñoz / Baltimore Sun)
The Orioles hit four homers, including three off starter Aaron Sanchez, earning their fourth win over the Toronto Blue Jays in as many meetings with a 6-4 victory Friday night at Rogers Centre.
In taking advantage of a spiraling Blue Jays team off to its worst start in club history (1-9), the win was the Orioles' third straight overall and kept them in first place in the American League East.
Jonathan Schoop, J.J. Hardy, Chris Davis and Seth Smith homered for the Orioles (7-2). Left-hander Wade Miley (1-0) won his first decision of the year.
Friday night's power display gave the Orioles nine homers in their past three games.
"Yeah, we've seen a lot," Hardy said of the club's power surge. "I wouldn't say surprised; it's the way our offense works. If we're going good, there's going to be a lot of homers. Think there was four tonight. Definitely not surprised."
Hardy's two-run blast in a three-run fifth was his first of the season and gave the Orioles the lead for good after they trailed 3-1. Schoop hit his second homer in his past three games earlier in the inning – an estimated 419-foot shot to center field -- and Davis smoked his third homer of the season to center field with a solo shot in the sixth.
Smith added insurance with a solo homer in the ninth off right-hander Jason Grilli for his second home run of the season.
The Orioles scored their first run in the second inning when Davis scored on a wild pitch from Sanchez. Davis reached on a leadoff double and moved to third on a groundout by Schoop.
Sanchez was 4-0 in five starts against the Orioles last season, and entered the night undefeated against them at Rogers Centre.
"He's one of the better pitchers in the league," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "Seems like they run one out there every night and that's why they've been so successful."
Orioles pitchers finished with 15 strikeouts on the night, including eight from Miley.
Britton continues to climb save streak list
Despite allowing a run in the ninth, closer Zach Britton converted his 54th straight save opportunity, which tied him with Tom Gordon for the second-longest consecutive saves streak in baseball history. Only Eric Gagne, who converted 84 straight chances, has more.
After stranding the winning run at second base in the ninth Thursday, the winning run came to the plate with two outs in the ninth Friday. And just like he did Thursday, Britton retired former Oriole Steve Pearce to end the game, this time striking him out by getting Pearce to swing through with an inside fastball.
"You've got the winning run at the plate and Zach went in," Showalter said. "Last place he may have been looking. Stevie is really capable of hurting you there. We got lucky last night and tonight Zach got a pitch where he wanted to get it."
Before that, Britton allowed a run on Devon Travis' two-out RBI single, the first time a run had been scored against the Orioles closer since last Aug. 24, ending a string of 19 straight scoreless outings.
Miley earns first win
Making his second start of the season, Miley had his first quality start while earning his first victory of the season, holding the struggling Blue Jays to three runs on five hits over six innings.
Coming off a season debut in which he walked seven batters in five innings, Miley displayed improved control Friday, striking out eight Toronto batters without issuing a walk.
Miley took control from the start, striking out the side in the first inning, all swinging and all on different pitches.
Justin Smoak drove in two of the Blue Jays' three runs against Miley with an RBI single in the second and a solo homer in the fourth. The only other Toronto run off Miley was scored on Manny Machado's fielding error in the second.
Miley faced the minimum number of batters in his final two innings, ending his outing with a strikeout of Russell Martin looking on his 101st pitch.
Davis mashes Jays
Davis' homer off Sanchez was the 37th of his career against the Blue Jays, his most against any opponent. Davis also has 18 homers and 41 RBIs in 52 career games at Rogers Centre, both career highs for an opposing ballpark. Davis is a career .316 hitter at Rogers Centre.
Davis is 8-for-19 over his past five games overall and is hitting .364 on the season.
Right-hander Darren O'Day pitched his second straight scoreless outing, but it didn't come without drama.
With the Orioles up 5-3, O'Day tossed a scoreless seventh inning, but allowed singles to Ryan Goins and Kevin Pillar, bringing the go-ahead run to the plate in the form of Pearce.
It was the third time over the team's four meetings that Pearce was at the plate with the chance to either give his new team the lead or the win. But O'Day induced an inning-ending popup from Pearce to escape.
Right-hander Brad Brach followed by striking out the side in the eighth, retiring all three batters he faced – Jose Bautista, Kendrys Morales and Troy Tulowitzki – on swinging strikes.
"We pitched well out of the 'pen again," Showalter said. "Zach got the job done and so did Darren. We had to get some big outs along the way though."
Home plate umpire and crew chief Dale Scott was carted off the field in the top of the eighth inning when a foul ball off the bat of Mark Trumbo directly hit him in the bottom part of his mask.
Scott, a 31-year veteran, fell to the ground and was attended to by trainers and EMS personnel. He was mobilized with a neck brace, placed on a stretcher and carted off the field. He was replaced at home plate by Brian Knight.
Scott was taken to a local hospital and diagnosed with a concussion.
"I think it's just a reminder of the challenges physically and the risk taken every night by catchers, umpires and that one, I know Dale had some concussions last year," Showalter said after the game. "I'm heading over to the locker room so I can see if they have any news. That one didn't sound good. Someone said the replay [showed] it hit like his chin and hit his throat guard? I'm hoping for the best. That one was not good."