MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Baltimore Orioles

Recap: Blue Jays 4, Orioles 3; Unconventional Bullpen Usage Leads to Blue Jays Victory

Just as soon as the game started, it seemed as if Camden Yards was booing Jose Bautista. Frankly, I had no idea this grudge was still held by the Baltimore Orioles’ fans.

For the uninitiated, the abridged version: Jose Bautista is good at baseball, and the Orioles keep giving up home runs to him and hitting him with pitches, so their fans are mad at Bautista for that. That about covers it.

The Orioles were 8-3 heading into this evening’s game, and started the season as the hottest team in all of baseball at 7-0. Marcus Stroman was slated to take the mound against Mike Wright. Wright had only managed to pitch five innings in his last and only start of the still-young 2016 season. Despite giving up four runs on five hits and a walk, Wright came in with a 1-0 record.

Top Play of the Game by WPA

The top play was delivered by Matt Wieters via a two-run homer in the seventh inning (.188). With the Blue Jays leading 4-1 and Mark Trumbo on first, Wieters deposited Stroman’s 1-1 changeup barely over the right field fences. This pushed the Orioles win probability from 17.4 percent up to 36.2 percent.

It was the first in a series of very hard hit balls given up in the inning. Jonathan Schoop took a Stroman fastball for a ride down the left field line as well, but it ended up fairly well foul. After escaping the inning without any further hard contact actually costing any damage, John Gibbons went to the bullpen to begin the eighth.

Bottom Play of the Game by WPA

With two-on and two-out in one of the highest leverage moments of the entire game, Mark Trumbo was set to face Roberto Osuna fresh out of the bullpen in the eighth inning. Osuna promptly got Trumbo to fly out to right-centerfield on the third pitch of the at-bat (-.122 WPA). After so much had gone the Orioles’ way in the inning, Trumbo’s flyout took the Orioles’ probability of winning the game from 28.6 percent to 16.3 percent.

The rest of the evening was clinical, as Osuna made quiet work of the Orioles in the ninth inning, retiring Wieters, J.J. Hardy, and Pedro Alvarez in order on just 13 pitches.

The Orioles Losing Streak Begins

We all know the Orioles started 7-0. We also all know the Orioles are still projected to finish very poorly by PECOTA estimations. They’ve now lost two in a row and the series against the Blue Jays has just begun. Can the Blue Jays muster their first sweep of the year?

Trend to Watch

Roberto Osuna coming in for a four-out save seems decidedly unlike the way Gibbons has managed a game before this. With the leverage index getting to its highest point of the game – and very likely higher than any point the ninth inning may yield – it was an extremely prudent move. Cecil had trouble dispensing of the top of the Orioles order with no help from the home plate umpire and a very, very hitter-friendly strikezone. Once Cecil had managed to get Chris Davis to pop out on the first pitch of the at-bat, Gibbons wanted a righty to face Trumbo. Instead of pulling a reliever in for a one-out opportunity, Gibbons went straight for the closer.

Whether Gibbons will continue to deploy Osuna in more-than-three-out save opportunities seems very interesting.

Up Next

The Orioles will continue hosting their fellow-bird rival tomorrow with first pitch scheduled for 7:05pm. R.A. Dickey (1-2, 6.75 ERA) will take on Ubaldo Jimenez (1-1, 3.75 ERA). In Jimenez’s last start, he was only able to make it through five innings, giving up four runs on six hits and four walks. Despite a hot start, the Orioles rotation has had trouble staying late into games thus far this season, and could definitely use a reliable start from Jimenez.

In Dickey’s last start, the knuckleball looked so good that even Josh Thole had trouble catching it. That led to some severe issues including Hanley Ramirez reaching base on a passed ball after striking out in the first inning – an out that would have been the third of the inning. Instead, the inning continued, and the Red Sox finished up the first with a three-run lead.

Lead Photo: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

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3 comments on “Recap: Blue Jays 4, Orioles 3; Unconventional Bullpen Usage Leads to Blue Jays Victory”


I get that Stroman has a good sinker, and it reduces the number of home runs he’s going big to give up and keeps him in games longer. But he’s got a good four seamer, and the top of the strike zone actually does exist. You’d think he’d chuck one in there every now and then. But he basically hasn’t done that at all since returning from his injury. No idea why.


(Or well, I DO know why and wrote it in my very first sentence.) It just seems like he’s limiting himself and allowing the hitters to zone in a little more than they should. But what do I know? I teach art for a living.

Michael Bradburn

First of all, thanks for reading. Second of all, don’t be so hard on yourself for teaching art! Haha.

I looked into this and it turns out that, so far this season, Marcus Stroman has thrown 34.4% of his fourseam fastballs to the top third of the zone or higher. While he certainly prefers low (nearly 16% finish in the bottom third of the strikezone) he doesn’t seem to avoid the top of the zone.

You can check it all out here at Brooks Baseball:

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