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Ryan Mountcastle’s two homers not enough as Orioles lose to Blue Jays, 6-5, on another walk-off hit

On a day that began with a focus on the farm system, Ryan Mountcastle provided a reminder that part of the Orioles’ future has already reached the majors.

Hours after the Orioles acquired two prospects and three players to be named later by trading away starting pitcher Tommy Milone and reliever Mychal Givens, Mountcastle slugged his first two major league home runs in a 6-5 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, with Teoscar Hernández’s walk-off, two-run single off Cole Sulser in the ninth spoiling the rookie’s big day.

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The Orioles (14-19) have lost all six of their matchups with the Blue Jays this season and have lost 11 of their past 13 games overall.

Both blasts from Mountcastle, who began the season as the team’s No. 5 prospect, provided the Orioles with the lead and represented the first showing of his prodigious power in the majors. He became the fourth Oriole with a multi-homer game within his first eight major league appearances and the first since Manny Machado in 2012.

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“It’s been awesome,” Mountcastle said. “Just to finally be able to live out the dream has really been a cool experience so far. To have a pretty decent day today was definitely a breath of fresh air.”

With the Blue Jays playing their home games at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, New York, because of the coronavirus pandemic, Mountcastle’s homers came in a stadium normally used in the Triple-A International League, where last year he was Most Valuable Player while hitting 25 home runs with a .312/.344/.527 slashline.

That success also came with some plate discipline concerns, as he struck out more than five times as often as he walked. Wanting him to improve those skills and train his outfield defense, the Orioles held him at their alternate training site in Bowie for most of the season’s first month.

Those efforts have proven fruitful through Mountcastle’s first eight games. He’s batting .407 with a 1.188 OPS, drawing four walks to six strikeouts.

“We put a lot of work in over in the Bowie site with all the hitting guys,” Mountcastle said. “I feel like I’ve brought it over here somewhat. I feel pretty comfortable.”

He put the Orioles on the board with a solo shot off Tanner Roark in the second inning that left the ballpark and went what Statcast projected as 420 feet. His teammates greeted him with the silent treatment as a fan in a Pittsburgh Pirates T-shirt outside the stadium collected the baseball. The Orioles eventually tracked it down for him.

Mountcastle singled the other way to lead off the fourth, but he was erased on a double play. When he came up next in the sixth, the Orioles trailed 3-2, with Pedro Severino standing on first base after scoring Renato Núñez with his first hit since suffering a hip flexor injury last week. Mountcastle then turned on a 1-1 sinker from Roark and again sent the ball out to left, giving the Orioles a lead for the second time.

“You saw the raw power,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “You saw his potential there. Just took really good at-bats.”

Backend opportunity

One product of Sunday’s trades was opening a roster spot for hard-throwing right-hander Hunter Harvey to come off the injured list. The latter trade, sending Givens to the Colorado Rockies, also opened a role for him.

Without their primary setup man, the Orioles had Harvey make his season debut with a one-run lead in the eighth. He retired the first two batters he faced before allowing a hit and a walk, prompting Hyde to bring in left-hander Tanner Scott. After stranding the first 14 runners he inherited this season, Scott allowed one to score for the fourth straight outing when Rowdy Tellez singled the tying run home.

“He just threw a bad slider, and Tanner hasn’t done that much,” Hyde said. “That one hurt.”

The Orioles retook the lead on José Iglesias’ two-out infield single in the ninth, but in the bottom half, Sulser loaded the bases with three walks, the middle one an intentional free pass to Randal Grichuk, who hit a walk-off home run off Sulser in Friday’s series opener. Instead, it was Hernández who dealt the finishing blow, singling through the left side with two outs to score two.

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Afterward, Hyde did not commit to keeping Sulser as his closer.

“I think anything’s open right now, to be honest with you,” Hyde said. “He’s hit a little bit of a bump in the road in the ninth inning as of late, so I’ll keep my options open with whoever.”

López wavers

In the days leading up to Jorge López’s first start with the Orioles, both Hyde and bullpen coach Darren Holmes praised the right-hander’s potential to be a long-term rotation piece.

López flashed that potential early, retiring the first 10 Blue Jays he faced. But then he ran into trouble, as six of the next nine batters reached and Toronto plated three runs with Grichuk’s sacrifice fly ending his day with two outs in the fifth.

Left-hander Paul Fry replaced López and got the game to the eighth, working 2⅓ scoreless innings on 24 pitches.

ORIOLES@BLUE JAYS

Monday, 2:07 p.m.

TV: MASN

Radio: 105.7 FM

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