The Orioles' 8-6 loss to the Blue Jays Tuesday night ended with catcher Matt Wieters watching his team's failed comeback from a seven-run deficit in the visiting clubhouse of the Rogers Centre, banished from the field after receiving the first ejection of his big-league career.
It ended with Orioles manager Buck Showalter heading to the trainer's room to get an update on his Gold Glove starting right fielder, Nick Markakis, who tweaked his right wrist attempting a swing that tried to keep the Orioles comeback hopes alive.
Baltimore made its share of mistakes on Tuesday night — three errors to go along with a sub-par starting pitching performance — but remained within a couple hits of victory.
The Orioles fought more than the Blue Jays on Tuesday night. They fought the umpires. They fought themselves.
In the end, the Orioles (29-21) dropped their season-high fourth-straight game and their seventh in their last nine, but somehow still sit atop the AL East thanks to the equally reeling Rays.
They owned the best road record in the American League before Monday's game, but the Orioles have now dropped the first two games of their pivotal three-city, nine-game road trip against AL East teams. The loss also sealed their third-straight series loss, another dubious season first.
"We had a couple mistakes early that compounded each other," said Orioles center fielder Adam Jones, who had his second career two-homer game but committed a costly error. "We didn't give up. We still swung the bats. The early mistakes put us in a bigger hole than we needed to be in, maybe down by two or three instead of five or six. That's a big hole to come back from."
Opening Day starter Jake Arrieta didn't last through the fifth inning, beaten up by a Blue Jays bottom of the order that was a combined 8-for-12 with 6 RBI.
The Orioles' defense didn't help, committing three errors on the night. Arrieta's errant throw on a bunt play breathed life into a two-run Toronto third and back-to-back outfield fielding errors resuscitated a three-run fourth.
The frustration peaked in the fifth, trailing 8-1, when Wieters was ejected by home plate umpire Doug Eddings for arguing balls and strikes.
"I felt that inning we threw some good pitches and they didn't get called strikes, and some pitches that had been getting called strikes earlier in the game," Wieters said. "You can't argue balls and strikes so I got to sit in here and watch us almost make a good comeback."
"He gave me plenty of rope," Wieters added. "That's clear. You can't argue balls and strikes. It's something where I knew I might be gone there but I had to say my peace."
On the night, Arrieta allowed seven runs — six earned — on six hits while striking out five and walking three. Since his eight shutout inning effort at Yankee Stadium on May 2, he's 0-4 with an 8.00 ERA in five starts.
"Just the way I've pitched recently, I knew I needed to go out there and pitch deep into the game and give my team a little confidence," Arrieta said. "And not doing that is a little upsetting personally, especially when I know the way I can throw and that I can do it on a consistent basis. Not doing it for several starts, it hurts. It hurts myself, it hurts my team, it hurts our staff, everybody. It puts our team in a tough situation."
After the Orioles took a 1-0 lead on Jones' second-inning solo homer, Brett Lawrie and David Cooper opened the third inning with back-to-back singles. No. 9 hitter Rajai Davis bunted to third, but Arrieta jumped in front of third baseman Steve Tolleson and threw to first wide, allowing Lawrie to score and putting two runners in scoring position. The Blue Jays then scored a second run on Yunel Escobar's RBI ground out to third.
Toronto (26-24) added two more runs quickly in the fourth on a Lawrie double that plated Colby Rasmus (one-out double) and J.P. Arencibia (walk).
Jones then dropped David Cooper's fly ball to center — a ball that was in Jones' glove and fell out — placing runners at first and third. Davis then singled to left to score Lawrie, and Wilson Betemit mis-played the ball there.
Arrieta wouldn't last the fifth after issuing back-to-back walks, giving way to rookie right-hander Miguel Gonzalez, who was called up earlier in the day, with two on and one out.
"The fastball command got away from him," Showalter said of Arrieta. "It doesn't matter whether it's us, Toronto, New York, Boston, Tampa. If you don't get more depth from your starters, you're going to struggle to win and you're constantly going to be making changes to keep your bullpen in tact."
Gonzalez was welcomed to the big leagues with three straight two-out RBI singles. Following the last one — a Davis single that made it 8-1 –- Wieters was ejected.
The Orioles rallied late — Jones hit his team-high 16th homer of the year, a two-run shot off Casey Janssen, in the ninth to make it 8-6 — but the Orioles stranded seven runners in the final three innings, including five in scoring position. On the night, the Orioles left 11 runners on base and were 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
Down 8-1, the Orioles rallied for three runs in the sixth. Jones hit a one-out single, followed by a double by Ronnie Paulino. Jones scored on Mark Reynolds' ground out to third, and Chris Davis hit a towering two-run homer off Toronto starter Ricky Romero to make it 8-4.
Baltimore sent the potential tying run to the plate in the seventh against Jason Fraser. Steve Tolleson's leadoff single set the stage for Markakis' two-out double. Jones walked to load the bases, but Paulino – hitting in Wieters' spot – grounded out to second to end the inning.
The Orioles had runners at second and third with two outs in the eighth, but Jays reliever Francisco Cordero struck out Robert Andino swinging to end the inning. Baltimore also had the go-ahead run at the plate in the ninth with runners at first and second with one out, but Lawrie made a sliding catch of a Davis pop up in foul ground and Betemit grounded out to end the game.
Now, the Orioles hope to salvage one game in the series finale tonight.
"I think the key is putting all the importance on one game," Wieters said. "That's sort of the success to our season. We play for tomorrow. It's a tough loss, but we'll go home and forget about this one and come out tomorrow."