They’ve had the chance to win the deciding game in each of their past six series and have come up short in all of them, this time losing to the Toronto Blue Jays, 12-3, in particularly inglorious fashion.
The Jays scored seven times in the sixth inning to break open a tight game and keep the O’s from winning their first series since they took two of three games from the Chicago White Sox at Oriole Park April 22-24. That remains the only series they have won at home all season.
It was a particularly discouraging night for the Orioles bullpen, which seemed to be getting its act together when the Jays showed up in town. The O’s won the series opener with the help of a solid bullpen progression that included three holds and a save.
That was before Miguel Castro surrendered a grand slam in a six-run fifth inning Wednesday night and three relievers combined to give up nine earned runs in the sixth and seventh innings Thursday.
Left-hander Paul Fry, who had been the most consistent of the young middle relievers since coming up to the majors last year, came on in relief of starter Gabriel Ynoa and got only one batter out while allowing five earned runs on three hits and two walks. His ERA — a solid 3.21 after 27 games — ballooned to 4.76 in just one appearance.
“Set up pretty good for Paul Fry right there and just had tough time locating, some walks,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Next thing you know, it got away from us. Third game of this series, rubber game of the series, and we were right there in the top of the sixth, and then it got away from us.”
Evan Phillips allowed the final run of the sixth inning and Josh Lucas allowed three runs on four hits and a walk in the seventh. The O’s bullpen, which entered the game ranked a distant 15th in the American League, raised its combined ERA from 5.64 to 5.84.
“It’s just that we’re working behind in the count and didn’t throw the ball very well out of the ’pen tonight,” Hyde said. “There was obviously a few guys I didn’t want to use if we were losing.”
Ynoa, making his fourth start of the season after coming out of the bullpen for his first nine appearances, delivered a performance similar to each of his other starts. He worked into the sixth inning and allowed three runs on seven hits — two of them solo home runs.
Blue Jays rookie Cavan Biggio put Toronto on the scoreboard with the first of those two homers, a two-out shot to right in the second inning. The Blue Jays added a run in the third on an RBI single by left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who would eventually drive Ynoa out of the game with a leadoff homer in the sixth.
“It's not what I was expecting,” Ynoa said through interpreter Ramon Alarcon. “I tried to go longer, to pitch better, but I think I left the game pretty close.”
It was another tight game up to that point. The Orioles had come back to tie the game on a pair of run-scoring singles by Anthony Santander, who matched a career high with three hits for the second time in the series.
Following Gurriel’s tie-breaking home run, Fry came on to retire the next batter, than allowed the five straight hitters to reach base. No. 8 hitter Freddy Galvis and No. 9 hitter Danny Jansen each hit two-run doubles before Phillips took over and allowed the RBI singles to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Justin Smoak. Biggio started the Toronto rally in the seventh with his second home run of the game.