The Orioles haven’t been able to win many games without outslugging their competition in recent weeks, which has been an indication of the club’s starting pitching woes.
And on Tuesday night, the Orioles grinded out a rare low-scoring win in their series opener against the Toronto Blue Jays with a 3-1 victory at the Rogers Centre that marked their first victory while scoring three runs or fewer in 23 games -- and just the second time in that span they’ve allowed six hits or fewer.
The one run the Orioles allowed, with two outs in the ninth inning, was the fewest since a May 7 shutout of the Chicago White Sox.
The Orioles have won three straight games for the first time in nearly four weeks – they did so May 31 through July 2 against the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox – and with their third win four games into their seven-game intradivision road trip to Tampa Bay and Toronto, the Orioles evened their record at 38-38.
The victory gave them their first three-game winning streak away from Camden Yards since their first trip of the season, April 12-14 in Boston and Toronto.
“In previous years, we’ve played really well on the road,” center fielder Adam Jones said. “And this year is this year. We ran into a bit of a blip on the road, but things like that happen. It’s a long season, so because we started one way doesn’t mean we’re going to finish one way. The guys in here, they understand that you grind it out, and it’s super cliché but that’s what you have to do in this business. The guys in here are on board, so just going to have to continue to grind it out.”
Orioles right-hander Kevin Gausman came two outs short of getting his third quality start against the Blue Jays, but he held Toronto scoreless over 5 1/3 innings.
Gausman (4-7) earned his first win in his past five starts – and his first scoreless outing of the season – facing the minimum number of hitters through his first four innings.
“It was nice,” second baseman Jonathan Schoop said. “It was nice to get two runs right away and then Kevin attacked the zone, attacked the hitters. And it was quick. I like it.”
Gausman, who opened the night allowed the most base runners among qualified starter in the major leagues (his 1.88 WHIP was the highest in baseball), dug himself into deep counts, but he went into the fifth allowing just one single and a walk.
He was helped early by his defense, which turned a 6-4-3 double play in the first inning to erase a leadoff single by Jose Bautista, and Welington Castillo’s throw-out of Justin Smoak on a strikeout/throw-out double play in the second inning.
Gausman stranded runners at the corners in the fifth, inducing a flyout from Kevin Pillar, and was chased from the game in the sixth after putting two on with one out, allowing a single to Bautista and walk to Russell Martin on his 99th pitch of the night.
“Come out and put it up and get the double-play ball in the first inning, it helped him get his feet on the ground,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “I’m sure a lot of people go out there and look at stats and see what’s [wrong with] this guy. But over two or three starts' time you could have a whole different look at that. But you’ve got to live in the now. I tell them all the time, you’ve got to live in the now. You can’t live in the future or the past. When you start playing the 18th hole when you’re on the 16th hole, you’re going to have trouble on the 17th hole.”
Orioles go up early
Schoop fueled a pair of two-out rallies as the Orioles took a 3-0 lead after three innings.
Mark Trumbo hit a two-run double off the center-field wall in the first inning that scored Schoop, who singled to left for the Orioles’ first hit, and Jones, who drew an eight-pitch walk to reach base and scored from first sliding ahead of Martin’s tag at the plate.
“I thought the key to the game was Jonesy’s walk in the first inning,” Showalter said. “I thought so at the time. Those things are really a momentum [builder], even in the first inning, that when you have that kind of at-bat you can pass the baton to some pretty good hitter. … Three runs usually in this park, you don’t like your chances.”
After Schoop doubled with two outs in the third, Jones drove him home with an RBI single that gave the Orioles a three-run lead.
Trumbo added another double in the eighth.
Schoop has five multihit games in his past seven contests, hitting .407 (11-for-27) with five extra-base hits (three doubles and two homers) and seven RBIs over that stretch.
“I’m just swinging at strikes,” Schoop said. “Every year I want to be better. I know I have to work to get better. I’m swinging at better pitches. Swing at strikes and the rest will come. Better things will happen.”
Castillo rescues Givens
Mychal Givens escaped a bases-loaded jam in the sixth by striking out Kendrys Morales on a 95-mph fastball that was high and outside, but credit had to go to Castillo for corralling two wild offerings from Givesn that would have scored runs.
With Baustista at third, Castillo made a full-extension dive on Givens’ second pitch of the night – his first to Josh Donaldson went to the backstop and moved two inherited runners into scoring position.
Castillo prevented another Givens pitch from getting past him, sliding to get it as it rolled toward the Orioles dugout preventing Bautista from scoring.
Givens settled himself, and after leaving the bases loaded in the sixth, he pitched a scoreless seventh. Right-hander Darren O'Day recorded his third straight scoreless outing since returning from the DL on Friday in a clean eighth inning.
Jays end Brach’s scoreless streak
The Blue Jays’ only run came when they were down to their final out, when shortstop Troy Tulowitzki took interim closer Brad Brach deep for a home run over the center-field fence.
It was the first run Brach has allowed in his past 14 appearances. Brach still converted his 14th save and has allowed just five hits over his past 14 1/3 innings.