Orioles manager Brandon Hyde expressed a simple desire in the hours before his club began its final series of 2020′s truncated regular season.
“I’d just like to see us play well the last three games,” Hyde said.
His wish went ungranted in the first of the trio Friday. The Toronto Blue Jays pounded the Orioles, 10-5, to open the three-game set, being played at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, New York, after the Canadian government declined to allow the Blue Jays to play their home games at the Rogers Centre.
Despite their nomadism, the Blue Jays' dominant victory served as an after-party for Thursday, when they clinched one of the American League’s eight playoff spots. The Orioles (24-34) were 1 1/2 games outside of playoff position two weeks ago but have gone 4-13 since.
Randal Grichuk began the second inning with a solo shot off Jorge López, his 18th homer in 38 career games against Baltimore. Six have come this season, while he has five against other teams in 2020.
Six of the next eight Blue Jays reached off López, four via singles with a walk and hit batter each, before the right-hander struck out Grichuk to end the six-run frame.
“I feel like I was snowballed,” López said. “I couldn’t get out of it in that inning.”
López returned for the third and quickly surrendered three more singles, prompting Hyde to end his night after two-plus innings. In his final outing of 2020, López allowed eight runs, raising his ERA in six starts with Baltimore since being claimed on waivers from the Kansas City Royals to 6.14.
“Tonight just wasn’t his night," Hyde said. “Just seemed like there was a lot of middle misses. These guys have been swinging the bat well, and they hit him hard. There’s no two ways around it.”
In the fourth, Travis Shaw added a two-run home run off Thomas Eshelman, who worked four innings of long relief behind López. Branden Kline added two scoreless innings, getting help from center fielder Cedric Mullins' leaping catch at the wall.
On the other side, right-hander Taijuan Walker pitched three perfect innings in a tuneup start before the Blue Jays' first playoff series. In the fifth, Ramón Urías went the other way against Shun Yamaguchi for his first major league homer, giving him hits in all four games since his latest promotion from the Bowie alternate site. Mullins followed with a solo shot for the Orioles' sixth pair of back-to-back home runs in 2020.
Urías, who is 7-for-16 with three extra-base hits since the promotion, said the coaches at the alternate site made it a focus for him to hit the ball to right field.
“My dream was to always be here,” Urías said through team interpreter Ramón Alarcón. “Now that I’m here, the things that I can control is to continue to work hard, play hard and try to give my best effort in order to get good results and try to help my team.”
Added Hyde: "He’s taking really good at-bats. I like the way he stays on the ball, like the way he hits the ball the other way. Drove that ball into right-center tonight. He’s just competing at the plate. I think if you make a mistake over the plate, he takes a really good swing on it. He’s hitting the ball hard.”
Having not shown much power this season despite being one of the Orioles' most productive hitters, José Iglesias homered for the second straight game, taking Yamaguchi deep in the sixth. Hanser Alberto added an RBI double in the frame and scored the Orioles' fifth run in the ninth on a Mullins groundout.
Alberto and Ryan Mountcastle were the only Orioles with more than one hit. Mountcastle has 13 multi-hit performances in 33 career games.