Morales' bid to make HR history ends in loss

August 28th, 2018

BALTIMORE -- came up short in his bid to make Major League history and the Blue Jays followed suit in their series opener against the Orioles.

Morales saw his streak of seven consecutive games with a home run come to an end as he went hitless in three at-bats in a 7-0 loss to Baltimore on Monday night at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The veteran designated hitter drew a four-pitch walk in the sixth inning, but that was the only time he reached base as his impressive run came to an end.

The native of Cuba was one swing away from tying the Major League record for the most consecutive games with at least one home run. Ken Griffey Jr. (1993), Don Mattingly (1987) and Dale Long (1956) previously homered in eight consecutive games while Morales will have to settle for being one of only seven players to homer in seven straight.

"It had to be finished one day or another," Morales said through an interpreter. "I didn't think I was going to hit, I don't know, maybe 10 or 15 more. But it's something incredible, something I'm really proud of. Something that makes me really happy. I never thought I would do something like that in my life, so I'm really happy that I did it."

Morales fell short of the record, but he does come away with a Blue Jays milestone. The borderline historic week moved him ahead of former big league outfielder Jose Cruz Jr., who homered in six consecutive games during the 2001 season. Morales' streak of seven games is also a season high in the Majors, surpassing Matt Carpenter's total of six.

The home run streak wasn't the only benchmark that came to an end on Monday night. Morales also saw his 10-game hitting streak and seven-game RBI streak come to their conclusions. During the 10-game hitting streak, Morales hit .500 (17-for-34) with eight home runs, 15 RBIs and a 1.746 OPS while along the way earning Player of the Week honors in the American League. Morales' seven-game RBI streak matched his personal high, which was previously set in 2016.

It has been a remarkable turnaround for a player that was considered a candidate to be designated for assignment earlier in the year. Morales had a .499 OPS on May 17, but since then he is batting .308 (78-for-253) with 18 home runs, 42 RBIs and a .951 OPS in 78 games. Morales might not have tied the home run record, but his streak is the longest by a switch-hitter in Major League history. Not bad for a week at the office.

"There were a lot of pitches that were around the zone, I didn't miss many," Morales said while summing up his week. "Every time that I had a ball I could drive, I did it. I never felt like this before for that kind of time period."

As Morales' bat cooled off Monday night, so too did the rest of the Blue Jays' lineup. Orioles right-hander picked up the victory after he scattered four hits and two walks while striking out five over six scoreless innings. Backup catcher was the only player in Toronto's lineup who reached base more than once as he finished with a single and a walk.

Blue Jays right-hander Sam Gaviglio was saddled with the loss despite pitching a lot better than the box score would indicate. Gaviglio held the Orioles scoreless until the bottom of the sixth when Baltimore strung together four hits and a walk. The big blow came courtesy of Orioles designated hitter , who hit a three-run homer to right-center field as Baltimore took a commanding 4-0 lead it would not relinquish.

"I think I just didn't make pitches when I needed to," Gaviglio said. "A couple of guys got on and then I made a mistake there with the home run. Didn't get the ball in, and I paid for it."

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WHAT THEY SAID ABOUT MORALES

"It's an incredible feat. You guys know how rare it is. He was on a little roll and he took his rips. Just to show you what kind of guy he is, we had that leadoff double [in the fourth], you could tell he was just trying to get the guy over. He definitely has to pull, that can play into his favor there, but his main concern was get the guy over because that's what his job is. That says everything about him. He'll move on. He might hit a couple tomorrow night, who knows?" -- Blue Jays manager John Gibbons

"It was a hot hitter in their lineup. You knew you were going to have to make some good pitches. He's in a really good spot, the ball's looking real big for him now. Hey, don't let him hurt you, he's hot. That falls underneath the Captain Obvious. You still have to figure out a way to attack him and minimize the damage. His contact to damage ratio has been off the charts." -- Orioles manager Buck Showalter

"It's unreal. A couple of us were talking about it earlier, that's probably something we're never going to see again." -- Gaviglio

SOUND SMART

Right-hander Murphy Smith became the oldest player to ever make his Major League debut for the Blue Jays. Smith entered out of the bullpen and retired all four batters he faced after spending the previous 10 seasons in the Minor Leagues. Smith, who turned 31 last week, surpassed right-hander Darren Hall, who made his debut for the Blue Jays at age 29 and 290 days during the 1994 season.

"It's one of those feel-good deals," Gibbons said. "He responded and he did a nice job."

UP NEXT

Left-hander Thomas Pannone (1-0, 1.59) will take the mound when the Blue Jays continue their three-game series at 7:05 ET Tuesday night against Baltimore at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Pannone is set to make the second start of his career. In the first one, he carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the O's. The no-hit bid was broken up by a leadoff single by Trey Mancini.