Baltimore Orioles’ Adam Jones beats Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin to the plate to score during first inning action at Rogers Centre in Toronto, on Tuesday night.
By Mike Ganter
TORONTO — The formula for beating the Baltimore Orioles is pretty much set in stone these days.
Beat up whatever starter they throw out there and then hope your own starter and bullpen can keep the damage to less than that.
The Orioles just got over a stretch in which they went an incredible 20 games in a row giving up five runs or more in a game. They snapped the streak Saturday against Tampa behind starter Chris Tillman.
The starters bore the brunt of that beating.
Sunday, they started another streak, giving up five — but in an 8-5 win this time.
Tuesday’s starter, Kevin Gausman, made sure another long run didn’t get started last night, tossing 5 1/3 scoreless innings against the Toronto Blue Jays to get the ball to the Orioles bullpen, which is infinitely more reliable than the starters to this point in the season.
This time, the relievers just about matched Gausman, following his 5 1/3 shutout innings with 3 2/3 innings of one-run ball of their own for a 3-1 win over the slumping Jays.
“Yeah it was a lean night,” manager John Gibbons said of Toronto’s offence while going for the understatement of the night award.
Gausman came into the game with a 6.47 ERA but was much improved on this night, limiting Toronto hitters to just four knocks and two walks during his starting stint.
Toronto’s only real chance at breaking through — aside from a late Troy Tulowitzki homer — against any of the Oriole pitchers came in the sixth, when the Jays loaded the bases with one out against Gausman and then Micahel Givens, who came on in relief with two on and one out. Givens then got Josh Donaldson to line out to third to a perfectly placed Manny Machado, who didn’t have to move to snare the Donaldson bullet.
Givens then struck out Kendrys Morales to end the only real threat of the night by the Jays until Tulowitzki homered with two out in the ninth to at least do some damage to Baltimore’s pitching staff.
The real pitching problems on this night belonged solely to the Jays and mostly to their reliever turned starter, Joe Biagini.
“It was kind of a weird night for him,” Gibbons said of his starter who was making his 10th start since joining the rotation from the bullpen. “There were times he looked really good dominating and then he’d seem to lose the zone. But he kept us there and then the bullpen did a nice job to keep it there putting up zeros.”
Of course, the lean night at the plate meant it really didn’t matter what the bullpen did after Biagini put them in an early hole.
Biagini spoke for just under 8 1/2 minutes after the game and answered a total of three questions, although answered is probably the wrong description.
Biagini spoke following each question but it would be tough to categorize what he gave as answers to the actual questions.
Perhaps he is being intentionally scattered or perhaps he’s just over-thinking this whole starting move more than anyone in the history of the game has overthought a role change.
Suffice to say he was unable to evaluate his own performance from last night, he tries not to think of what it could mean to his future in the rotation when Aaron Sanchez eventually returns and is more than likely not close to being as comfortable starting as he was coming out of the bullpen.
Again, we could be wrong but that at least saves the reader eight minutes and 20 seconds of Biagini’s post-game talk with the media.
Last night was his 10th start since moving out of the bullpen with the Jays’ starting pitching corps suffering a rash of injuries. He’s fully stretched out by now and has been for a few games, but continues to have issues throwing strikes.
Gibbons referenced those issues pre-game saying it really came down to that one thing for Biagini – throwing strikes
Monday night saw that issue re-surface. He walked four over 5 1/3 innings, none bigger than an Adam Jones walk in the first after getting ahead of him 0-2 and needing just one more strike to have a clean inning.
Instead, he walked Jones, leading to an early 2-0 deficit.
Biagini would give up one more run, this one in the third. This time Jones singled to left to score Jonathan Schoop from second.
For the Jays, it was loss No. 5 in the past seven at a time when they need to start making a move as Biagini fell to 2-7.