The Orioles' three-game road winning streak ended Wednesday night at Rogers Centre, their bats silenced by Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman in a 4-0 loss.
Stroman, who was coming off one of his worst outings of the season, held the Orioles scoreless through 7 2/3 innings while limiting them to five hits. Stroman retired 17 of the last 20 batters he faced, and none of the three base runners he allowed reached second base.
The Orioles, who dropped back below .500 with the loss (38-39), did not have a single runner in scoring position against Stroman and had just one all night.
The loss was the Orioles' fifth shutout defeat this season.
"He was commanding his fastball," third baseman Manny Machado said of Stroman, who used his sinker to record 11 ground-ball outs and just two in the air. "He pitched well today. Sometimes you win some and you lose some. You've got to tip your cap to a good pitcher and he did his job today and kept the ball out of the air. You've just tip your cap and move on."
One night after the Orioles pulled out a rare low-scoring win, they had no answers for Stroman, who leaned on a two-seam sinking fastball that found the lower part of the strike zone. He owned the glove side of the plate with a precise slider that had the Orioles chasing and frustrated.
Stroman, who allowed a season-high seven runs in his previous start last Thursday in Texas, yielded just two singles and a walk after Caleb Joseph's leadoff single in the third.
"He feeds off of emotion," shortstop Paul Janish said. "When he gets rolling he feeds off of his own self. He did a good job of that tonight. Hopefully we come tomorrow and have the chance to win the series."
Stroman struck out eight Orioles on the night, getting 19 strike calls on his 74 two-seamers. The Orioles recorded eight swings and misses on his 20 sliders that tailed away to right-handed hitters.
"He was working the bottom of the zone with two or three pitches," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "There really wasn't one you could box out and I think both pitchers were making use of [an umpire] hunting strikes. I'll leave it at that. But it was the same both ways. He was really the difference."
Another short start
Wade Miley lasted five innings — marking the 16th time in the past 18 games that an Orioles starter has failed to get through six innings — allowing four runs, three of them earned, on six hits and four walks. Miley hasn't gone into the sixth inning in any of his past five starts.
Miley struggled to locate his fastball, forcing him to work from behind in the count with his off-speed pitches. He threw just 12 of 24 first-pitch strikes.
"What did me in was falling behind guys right out of the gate," Miley said. "Got to figure out how to get the fastball back over the plate. Didn't have it at all tonight. Just lost. Try to throw down the middle and I was struggling getting it over there. I was a little quick in my delivery at times."
Miley limited damage through his first three inning of work after Jose Bautista hit his second delivery of the night over the right-center-field fence to give the Blue Jays a 1-0 lead. In the second and third innings, he erased leadoff base runners with double-play balls that created harmless innings.
But in the fourth, Toronto tagged Miley for three runs, though two of them could have been avoided with more heady defensive play.
“Wade should have given up two runs,” Showalter said. “Games like this, it looks like Miley didn’t pitch well and he’ll probably be disappointed but usually holding a team to two runs you like your chances.”
A fateful fourth
Miley opened the fourth hanging a sinker to Justin Smoak, who hit the pitch an estimated 430 feet onto the center-field batter’s eye.
With two outs, shortstop Paul Janish snagged Bautista’s 110-mph grounder, but instead of going to first, Janish went to second, where there wasn’t a play with Kevin Pillar bearing down on the bag.
Miley took the blame for the fourth inning problems.
“Got a few double plays [early] that kind of bailed me out of some innings that could have been ugly,” Miley said. “The fourth inning, I mean you just can’t keep doing that and expect to get out. You keep falling behind guys like that, eventually it will catch up to you and it caught up with me in the fourth.”
Asher strong in relief
Asher did not allow a hit after allowed a leadoff single to former Oriole Steve Pearce on the first batter he faced, facing the minimum number of batters after that base runner was erased on a double play two batters later.
Asher has a 0.73 ERA in 12 1/3 innings against the Blue Jays this season, which includes a 6 1/3-inning, one-run quality start at Rogers Centre on April 15 in his first spot start of the season.
“Ash did a good job for us again to keep our bullpen in good shape for tomorrow,” Showalter said. “It is [important], only if we get into a situation where we’re able to use some people tomorrow. [Thursday’s starter] Ubaldo [Jimenez] is going to have to keep us in the game and keep us close so we can take advantage of that, but we’re going to have to score some runs.”