With Sunday's 5-2 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, the Orioles completed their third and final disastrous trip north of the border this season, something the resurgent club is hoping to quickly expunge from its collective memory.
The Blue Jays, however, aren't going to forget this one easily.
Not after their star slugger and potential Most Valuable Player candidate, Jose Bautista, was twice hit in the left arm with pitches -- leading to the ejections of Orioles manager Buck Showalter and reliever Alfredo Simon.
"The first one, I don't think was intentional, the second one was pretty horses --, to be honest with you," Jays starter Shaun Marcum said. "I'm sure it's something we'll remember for next year. Luckily, it didn't get him in the head or anywhere bad."
If not for the plunkings of Bautista and subsequent ejections by plate umpire Bill Welke, Sunday's game would have been just another beating at Rogers Centre, where the Orioles have lost 14 straight and 23 of 25.
They dropped all nine in Toronto this season; that's the second-longest winless string in one season against one road opponent in team history. In their inaugural season in 1954, the Orioles lost all 11 they played in Cleveland.
The Orioles (61-94) hadn't been swept in a series under Showalter, who took over Aug. 2. The last time they were swept was July 26-28, also in Toronto, while Juan Samuel was interim manager. The Orioles, however, swept the Blue Jays this month at Camden Yards.
"You don't give into it and say it is one of those things," Showalter said. "No, we beat them three times at [our place], and we lost the advantage we had by giving it right back here. So you are not happy about it."
It was the Blue Jays who walked away steamed after Simon entered the game in the fifth and hit Bautista with his sixth pitch of the inning. Simon's fifth pitch -- and second to Bautista -- also was inside and forced Bautista out of the batter's box. Then came the plunking.
"The catcher sets up outside," said Bautista, who leads the majors with 52 homers, including nine against the Orioles this season. "To get hit, to me, is pretty obvious to what they were doing. They didn't care to have a player ejected."
The controversy brewed in the third with one out and the Blue Jays leading 2-1. Rick VandenHurk (0-1), making his first start as an Oriole, hit Bautista, the ninth time he had been plunked this season.
"Just trying to pitch in," VandenHurk said. "I did not try to hit him. That's for sure."
Bautista later scored on a double by Lyle Overbay in what would prove to be the decisive run. In the top of the fourth, Luke Scott, the Orioles' leading home run hitter, led off and was grazed in the right ribs by Marcum. At that point, Welke warned both sides.
"Bautista got drilled, so obviously they are protecting their player, and, if that's the case, they went about it the right way, as long as they don't throw at people's heads," Scott said. "That's part of the game."
In the bottom of the fifth, Bautista came to the plate again and was plunked by Simon. Welke immediately ejected both Simon and, by rule, Showalter.
"There's no intention there, just a wild pitcher," said Showalter, ejected for his second time as an Oriole. "And I would have felt the same way [Welke] did and I am sure Cito [Gaston, the Jays' manager] did. The rules are set up to not let something like that get out of hand, and it's something that we caused from our wildness."
Simon, who said he had never been ejected in his pro career, said he didn't know the sides had been warned and was simply trying to go inside -- both times. "It was not on purpose," Simon said. "He is a friend of mine. There is no reason to hit him."
The Jays weren't so sure. In fact, they wondered why Simon, normally a late-inning pitcher, entered in the fifth. He hadn't pitched before the seventh all season. "I didn't think it was too funny myself," Gaston said. "The kid they brought in ÃÆÃâÃâÃâ¦ he's a short [relief] guy, not a long guy. A little suspicious."
Gaston, who is retiring at the end of the season, said he didn't know whether the plunking would have a carryover.
"Who knows what might happen next year? As far as the two teams, we have never had any bad blood in that sense," said Gaston, who will forever be remembered in Baltimore for not pitching Mike Mussina in the 1993 All-Star Game at Camden Yards.
However, Marcum (13-8), who limited the Orioles to one unearned run in seven innings, took a shot after the game that might still simmer in 2011.
"I guess that's how they do things over there. I think we have a little more respect for the game and respect for players on other teams," he said. "We're not going to throw at them on purpose, even if they have 50-plus homers. It is part of baseball; I understand you have to pitch people inside, but to bring a guy in from the bullpen and throw two pitches at him and then get ejected, it seemed like it was very intentional."
Regardless, the Blue Jays made their point where it most counts -- in wins and losses. For the season, Toronto won 15 of 18 games against the Orioles.
"They've been really tough against us. I can't put my finger on it," Scott said. "They've just outpitched us and out-hit us. And when you do, that you are going to win the majority of the games."