An early home run from Ryan Mountcastle and a go-ahead single from the standout rookie in the middle innings weren’t nearly enough to weather another letdown for the Orioles bullpen Monday night in a 7-3 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
Mountcastle’s team-high 25th home run was a fine start to this northern road trip for the Orioles, and the lead stood until Vladimir Guerrero Jr. homered off starter Chris Ellis in the fourth. But Ellis pitched into the fifth in another impressive turn in the Orioles’ rotation for the recent waiver claim, and a sixth-inning single from Mountcastle briefly broke that tie.
“I thought we had a chance there,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Had first and second, nobody out [in the sixth] and don’t push another one across. That hurt.”
Dillon Tate, who got out of Ellis’ fifth with an athletic tag of Jarrod Dyson, ended up allowing three runs in the sixth on a single by Bo Bichette and a two-run double by Teoscar Hernández. A three-run home run by Guerrero in the seventh off Marcos Diplán put the game out of reach.
That didn’t stop the Orioles (40-90) from clawing back some in the ninth. Mountcastle walked, Anthony Santander hit a sky-high pop-up that fell in between all of Toronto’s infielders and Pedro Severino singled Mountcastle home. It prompted the use of Blue Jays closer Jordan Romano, but pinch-hitter Cedric Mullins struck out to end the game.
Ellis makes a case
Ellis made his second start for the Orioles after pitching three innings of three-run ball in a 10-6 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday that ended their 19-game losing streak. He was even better Monday.
He struck out two and allowed two hits and walked one.
“He kept us in the game and went through the lineup twice,” Hyde said. “Everything we could ask.”
Ellis, who at 28 is only now getting his first extended major league chance after bouncing around six organizations in his career, said he’s “extremely grateful that Hyde’s given me the opportunity to take the ball every fifth day so far.”
”If it stays that way great, and if not, that’s great too,” he said. “I’m just trying to make the most of my opportunity here.”
Day off for Mullins
Mullins got a rare day out of the starting lineup Monday, with Hyde using newly recalled outfielder Ryan McKenna in center field and Austin Hays in the leadoff spot.
The Orioles were playing with a short bench the past few weeks, but adding McKenna will allow those days off for Mullins, Santander and the rest of the outfielders to be more frequent in September.
“It’s needed right now with our guys,” Hyde said. “To be able to have an extra bench player is important right now. Santander is still, he’s playing with the [ankle] lingering still and Cedric’s played a ton this year and played in the middle of the field, he’s run all over the place. So to be able to give guys a break is important.”
McKenna and right-hander Zack Burdi were recalled from Triple-A Norfolk to take the roster spots vacated Sunday when left-hander Paul Fry and right-hander Spenser Watkins were optioned amid difficult stretches.
Burdi is a hard-throwing reliever who will be taking Fry’s place in the Orioles’ bullpen, but Hyde hopes Fry will be back soon.
“Some appearances in Triple-A and in a more low-pressure environment is going to do him some good right now,” Hyde said. “Just feel like he’s lost a little bit of confidence and you see that in his misses, the walks, a lot of arm-side misses with the slider. I’d like to get his confidence back with his fastball over the plate.”
The Orioles have a day off Thursday, so they don’t immediately need a starter to replace Watkins in the rotation. Rosters expand from 26 to 28 on Wednesday, but neither pitcher will be eligible to return to the majors for 10 days unless replacing an injured player.
Tuesday, 7:07 p.m.
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