TORONTO — The Orioles have discovered different ways to lose throughout this lost season, and Saturday at Rogers Centre, they found a new way by dropping a 4-3 decision to the Toronto Blue Jays on reliever Mychal Givens’ bases-loaded walk in the 10th inning.
In a sloppy game that ended on the most anticlimactic of walk-off endings, the Orioles (19-44) sank to a season-worst 25 games below .500.
The Blue Jays (29-35) lost a pair of late-inning leads, but the Orioles couldn’t capitalize with another frustrating game offensively, going 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position. The Orioles have averaged just 1.9 runs over the past 10 games.
“The endgame is three runs again or less,” manager Buck Showalter said. “But we did create more opportunities, but there’s two parts to that — creating opportunities and not cashing them in. That big hit has just been elusive for us.”
Givens entered to start the 10th and struck out the first batter he faced. But he walked Justin Smoak on five pitches and hung an 0-2 changeup that Kendrys Morales hit for a single. Givens induced a flyout from Kevin Pillar to center field, but then hit Randal Grichuk with his first pitch to load the bases. Givens entered the day having hit just one of 132 batters faced this season.
Givens (0-2) then walked Luke Maile on four pitches, all fastballs, scoring the winning run on a borderline high pitch.
“Just got off rhythm and just wasn’t throwing strikes,” Givens said. “Like any bullpen guy, you try to make an adjustment and I didn’t make the adjustment of pounding the zone. The ball just got away from me and I went out there and lost the game.”
The Orioles were able to score the tying run in the eighth inning without a hit. Jonathan Schoop was hit by a one-out pitch by Joe Biagini, whose errant throw to first allowed the next batter, Mark Trumbo, to reach base. Trey Mancini drew a walk from Tyler Clippard to load the bases. Clippard nearly escaped the inning by striking out Chance Sisco, but he then buried a breaking ball in the dirt that got away from Maile and allowed Schoop to score from third.
The Orioles then failed to score the potential winning run in the ninth despite having two runners in scoring position with one out. Adam Jones was cut down at the plate on Craig Gentry’s grounder to third against a drawn-in infield and Schoop grounded out to end the inning. Before Gentry’s fielder’s choice, he couldn’t get down a squeeze bunt with Jones bearing down on the plate.
“Craig has been one of our best bunters,” Showalter said. “He did a nice job of fouling it off. It was down. It wouldn’t have surprised me if he had gotten it down. We’re scuffling to score runs. We’ll take our chances at about anything. Adam had a good break.”
Moments after the Orioles scored two runs to tie the game in the seventh, starter Kevin Gausman’s first pitch of the bottom of the inning caught too much of the plate and Grichuk – a light-hitting right fielder who has been a thorn in the Orioles’ side in this series – hit it just over the left-center-field fence.
“Trying to throw a fastball down and away and it kind of came across the plate,” Gausman said. “You know, just one of those things. More mad at myself about, we just came back and tied the game up. Told myself I was going to go out there and attack those guys. You know, maybe didn’t throw my best fastball down and away, and he put a good swing on it.”
But only so much could be put on Gausman, who pitched the Orioles’ ninth quality start in 10 games, holding Toronto to three runs over 6 2/3 innings. Over the past 10 games, Orioles starters have a 3.34 ERA, but the team is 2-8 in those games.
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The Orioles scored two runs in the seventh against Blue Jays right-hander Aaron Sanchez when Mancini hit a one-out single and scored on Sisco’s double into the right-center-field gap. After Jace Peterson drew a walk, Jones’ single tied the game.
Though they were charged with no errors, the Orioles didn’t help Gausman defensively earlier in the game. Mancini made an unsuccessful diving attempt to catch Morales’ sinking line drive to open the second inning. Gausman would strand Morales at third, but needed a strikeout-throwout double play to escape, getting Grichuk swinging before Sisco threw out Pillar trying to steal second.
With one on and no outs in the third, third baseman Danny Valencia couldn’t come up with Gio Urshela’s grounder, the ball hitting off his glove to put runners at the corners. Yangervis Solarte would drive in the runner from third with an RBI single that scored the first run of the game.
After that, Gausman found his groove, retiring eight straight — including six consecutive groundouts — before back-to-back doubles by Solarte and Teoscar Hernández gave Toronto a 2-0 lead in the sixth. Solarte’s double came after Mancini double-clutched his throw once he fielded the hit off the wall, allowing Solarte – who wasn’t running hard out of the box – to get to third.
Gausman recovered, striking out the next three batters. He struck out six and walked none while mainly working with his fastball and splitter.
“Just felt like I never got in a situation where throwing a breaking ball was really going to benefit me," Gausman said. “Just didn’t necessarily have the feel for it as early in the game as I have in the past. So my split was really good, too, and I just felt like that was working.”
Richard Bleier and Miguel Castro combined to pitch 2 1/3 scoreless innings of relief before Givens entered in the 10th.