TORONTO -- The Blue Jays were the ones responsible for ending Baltimore's season a year ago in the American League Wild Card Game. The Orioles haven't wasted any time getting their revenge.
Baltimore forced the Blue Jays to slip even further into the depths of the AL East by coming away with a 2-1 victory on Thursday night at Rogers Centre. The Orioles have won all three games vs. Toronto this season and find themselves atop the division, while the Blue Jays are suddenly 5 1/2 games back even though the season has yet to reach the two-week mark.
Right-hander Kevin Gausman led the way for Baltimore with six quality innings. He scattered five hits and two walks while striking out three to earn his first victory of the season. The Orioles' bullpen took it the rest of the way with Darren O'Day, Brad Brach and Zach Britton combining to throw three scoreless innings. Britton allowed a pair of runners to reach base in the ninth inning, but he got pinch-hitter Steve Pearce to fly out to end the game as he picked up his 53rd consecutive save, which is the third most in Major League history.
"[Gausman is] good, really good. It was a well-pitched game," said Orioles manager Buck Showalter. "He had his pitch count under control until they made him work a little bit his last couple of innings. We wanted to cut him off at six."
The Orioles did all of their damage in the top of the fifth inning off Toronto lefty Francisco Liriano. Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop had a two-hit night, while Welington Castillo added a single. Liriano was charged with the two runs on five hits and a pair of walks while striking out 10. It was a huge improvement over his last outing, when he could not pitch out of the first inning, but even this effort was not enough.
"There wasn't much margin for error today," Showalter said. "Liriano didn't make many mistakes, there was such a small margin of error. Most times, you're not going to come out on the winning end of a game they way Liriano was pitching, but Kevin was just a tad better."
Toronto has scored three runs or fewer in seven of its first nine games this season. Overall, the club has averaged 2.67 runs per game, and it entered play on Thursday with the lowest OPS (.549) in the Major Leagues. Thursday was a continuation of that concerning trend, as Kendrys Morales (two walks) was the lone hitter in the lineup to reach base more than once. The Blue Jays finished 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position and left five men on base.
"They're battling, something has to give," said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons, whose team has lost six consecutive games. "Something will give soon."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Down goes Donaldson:Josh Donaldson had to leave the game after his RBI double in the bottom of the sixth inning. Donaldson was rounding first when he started to slow down and then tried to hop on one foot the rest of the way to second base. The star third baseman made it safely, but he appeared to reinjure the sore right calf muscle that has been bothering him since Spring Training. Just when it appeared as though the Blue Jays were gaining a little bit of momentum it was sapped away, and Gausman retired two of the next three batters he faced to escape the jam without any further damage.
"It's tough," Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin said. "He's a pro. He's the kind of guy who can be a catalyst for us when he's playing. He brings a lot of energy and he does damage when he's playing. He's one of the best offensive players in the league. I just see how he works, how he prepares, before he's in the lineup or on the field. He works tremendously hard. ... It's definitely tough to see him limp off the field like that. Hopefully it's not something too severe." More >
Started from the bottom: Schoop put the Orioles on the board in the bottom of the sixth inning with a double off the wall in center field. One runner scored, and Trey Mancini tried to make it all the way from first base but he was thrown out at home following an impressive relay throw from Kevin Pillar and Troy Tulowitzki. That saved one run, but the Orioles quickly came back with another on J.J. Hardy's RBI single to left to give Baltimore a 2-0 lead it would not relinquish. More >
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Of Toronto's eight losses this season, four of them have been one-run decisions. Seven of the eight losses were decided by three runs or fewer, and the club is now 0-8 vs right-handed starting pitchers to begin the year.
Gibbons used a challenge in the bottom of the fifth inning when Donaldson hit a ground ball to the left side of the field. Manny Machado's throw was low and possibly a bit late, which prompted Donaldson to motion to the dugout for a review. Replays were not conclusive, and the call was ruled to stand.
Orioles:Wade Miley (0-0, 0.00 ERA) gets his second start of the season on Friday at 7:07 p.m. ET in the second of a four-game series against the Blue Jays. The left-hander allowed just one hit over five innings while striking out five in his start against the Yankees on Sunday, but walked seven.
Blue Jays:Aaron Sanchez (0-0, 1.29 ERA) will take the mound when the Blue Jays continue this series on Friday night. Sanchez faced the Rays during his first start of the season and allowed just one run over seven innings but was forced to take the no-decision because of a lack of run support
Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.