It ended Thursday night at Camden Yards with an 11-8 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, as starter Jeremy Hellickson and the relief duo of Richard Bleier and Mychal Givens provided too large a task for the game’s hottest offense.
All 11 Blue Jays runs, including seven off Hellickson, came with two outs.
“He’s a pitch away,” Showalter said. “He had a lot of balls elevated and paid a price for it, but we didn’t particularly pitch well. We swung the bats good tonight. [Marco] Estrada’s been a tough pitcher for us. Our guys did a great job off him. Hoping you could hold them there, but we couldn’t seem to stem the tide.”
Staked to leads of 3-0 and 5-2 in the early innings, Hellickson allowed five runs in the fifth inning and left with a 7-5 deficit. The Orioles (68-66) cut that margin in half in the bottom of that inning, but the Blue Jays (62-72) expanded it to 10-6 on a three-run home run by designated hitter Kendrys Morales in the sixth.
Morales provided problems for Hellickson en route to finishing with three home runs and seven RBIs. He homered in the third inning after Hellickson issued a two-out walk to scalding Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson, and added added an RBI single in the fifth. Morales’ third homer came off Givens in the eighth.
Later in the fifth, Hellickson ceded consecutive two-run doubles to catcher Miguel Montero and center fielder Kevin Pillar to end his day.
“Command was a little off,” Hellickson said. “I just fell behind on way too many guys. Too many walks. This has happened way too many times this years. I mean, two outs, no runs. Just like that, there was a five-spot up there. So, I’ve got to find a way to get that third out that inning.”
Hellickson (8-8) was charged with seven runs in 4 2/3 innings, and has a 6.55 ERA since joining the Orioles in late July.
Bleier got out of the fifth inning and retired the first two batters of the sixth before first baseman Steve Pearce doubled off him, bringing in Givens. Givens walked Donaldson and allowed a massive home run to Morales to put the Orioles in a big hole. Morales’ third home run produced Toronto’s 11th run.
Darren O’Day was the lone bright spot on the mound, with his scoreless ninth giving him 14 2/3 innings of two-run ball this month, lowering his season ERA to 3.86.
“That's another reminder how this is,” Showalter said. “Mych's had a good season and he's not getting the results he's capable of right now. Darren, he's finally — not finally — it comes and goes. Look around baseball. This is hard to do. We're lucky to have all those guys. They're one of the reasons why we're still in this. But they'll get it going when we need it again.”
The loss drops the Orioles to 2½ games behind the Minnesota Twins for the second wild-card playoff spot as they enter September.
“We don’t have to think, ‘Oh, we’ve got to win this, we’ve got to get on another roll,’” shortstop Tim Beckham said. “Every game is crucial, and we know that as a team. We want to continue to have fun on the baseball field and play relaxed and keep hitting the ball around the ballpark.”
Comeback cut short
The Orioles scored two runs in the eighth inning to try to claw their way back, but their rally dried up before they got back within reach. Designated hitter Mark Trumbo doubled to open the inning and scored when Beckham singled and Blue Jays right fielder José Bautista committed an error.
After a single by third baseman Manny Machado, who had two hits on the day, second baseman Jonathan Schoop scored Beckham on an infield single for his 100th RBI of the season. Schoop became just the third Orioles middle infielder with a 30-homer, 100-RBI season.
The Jays then brought in closer Roberto Osuna, who got center fielder Adam Jones to ground out and end the eighth before he pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
Jones's record-setting home run
Last year, the Orioles hit 55 home runs in August to tie for the most ever hit in that month. Jones ensured on Thursday that they wouldn't share that distinction with anyone going forward.
His first-inning, two-run home run was the Orioles' 56th this month, breaking the record they couldn't push past last year. Chris Davis' fifth-inning home run was No. 57, putting them one shy of the major league record of any month, set by the Orioles in May 1987 and tied by the Seattle Mariners in May 1999.
August was a booming month for the Orioles offense, which averaged 6.03 runs per game and entered Thursday batting .303 as a team with an .879 OPS on the month.
Beckham bests Hardy
With three hits, including an RBI single in the second inning and base hits in the sixth and eighth innings, Beckham has 50 hits since joining the Orioles in a July 31 trade.
That's two more than his predecessor, injured shortstop J.J. Hardy, has all season with the Orioles. Hardy played in 64 games before he fractured his wrist. Beckham has played 29 games with the Orioles.
“It’s wild,” Beckham said. “It’s a blessing, everything that’s happened. I thank God above for that. We need to keep it going and get this team to the playoffs.”
Even with their lower stations in the lineup, Davis and Trumbo were able to create offense at the bottom part of the order. Davis drove in a run with a groundout and Trumbo followed it up with an RBI single of his own to extend the Orioles' lead to 5-2 in the third.