Jays fans had every right to be nervous about this game. As measured by OPS, the Orioles featured the second most prolific offense in the AL to this point (.775, as compared to Toronto’s .720) and even better in June (a robust .892) and Marcus Stroman had been pretty awful in 3 of his last 4 outings. The Orioles starter came in having struggles of his own, but the Jays OPS in June was only .677 coming into this game.
Marcus started the game by walking Adam Jones, who’d later score on a double by Manny Machado but Machado then rescued Stroman from further damage with a base-running error that led to his being thrown out on a very close play at the plate. But the absence of hitting wasn’t a problem for the Jays early, scoring three in the bottom of the first inning and after Stroman cruised in the second they tacked on another run in the bottom of that inning.
Things seemed to be falling apart in the top of the third as Stroman loaded the bases with no outs and Chris Davis at the plate. He ended up allowing 2 of those runners to score but escaped with the lead barely intact. A Josh Donaldson triple (for the second game in a row) in the 4th drove in the Blue Jays’ fifth run.
After a Pedro Alvarez homer with one out in the 6th, John Gibbons decided to not risk further damage and Stroman was out of the game, not having inspired any confidence that he’d figured out his struggles.
In the bottom of the sixth, Jose Bautista left for a pinch runner after walking, with some apparent discomfort in his leg but the Jays stranded the runner. Aaron Loup was called on in the top of the seventh to retire Chris Davis and…didn’t. The game was tied at five and would remain so until the top of the ninth. LF Hyun Soo Kim doubled of recently-more-hittable Roberto Osuna to lead off the inning and two sacrifices later the go-ahead run crossed the plate. Now the burden was on the Jays to hand Zack Britton his first blown save of the year, if they could.
Top Play of the Game by WPA
Remember that Chris Davis homer I mentioned above, off Aaron Loup in the 7th inning? That play increased the O’s chances of winning by 20.1%
Bottom Play of the Game by WPA
In the bottom of that same inning, Russel martin came to the plate with 1 out and 2 runners on. He grounded into a double play to end the Blue Jays’ last serious threat to score, and decrease their chances of winning by 14.5%
Joey Bats’ Achy leg
We may see Jose Bautista take the night off tomorrow if his leg doesn’t feel better after his early exit tonight. Late in the game the team passed along to broadcasters that the cause for Bautista’s early exit was “right thigh tightness.” Toronto can ill afford to have any more bats on the shelf.
Trend to Watch
Tonight’s results provide no relief to the anxiety surrounding Marcus Stroman’s current run of sub-standard work. While the rest of the rotation is purring along, Pete Walker and Stroman will go back to the drawing board to try again to sort out what the issue might be.
The best Orioles starter in this series will take the hill tomorrow, and will have to bring his A game with Marco Ace-strada throwing for Toronto. The Blue Jays will be looking to gain back the ground they lost tonight to the first place Orioles.
Lead Photo: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports