TORONTO -- A baserunning blunder, fielding error and pitching mistake cost Baltimore one potential offensive run and four runs on defense -- ultimately leading to a 4-1 loss to the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on Saturday afternoon.The Orioles ambushed Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman in the first inning, stringing
TORONTO -- A baserunning blunder, fielding error and pitching mistake cost Baltimore one potential offensive run and four runs on defense -- ultimately leading to a 4-1 loss to the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on Saturday afternoon.
The Orioles ambushed Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman in the first inning, stringing together three hits, but they could only muster a single run. With Timothy Beckham at first base, Jonathan Schoop hit a sharp line drive to left field, but he tried to stretch a single into a double and instead ran into the waiting glove of second baseman Devon Travis. Adam Jones cashed in Beckham from third, before Mark Trumbo grounded into a double play that likely would have scored Schoop.
An errant throw from starter Alex Cobb in the fourth inning pulled Beckham slightly off the second-base bag as he tried to turn an ill advised double play. Had Beckham taken his time, he could have forced out Justin Smoak at second base, but instead he rushed the play and couldn't tag the bag or make the throw to first.
"It's such a quick play, I mean it was up the line a little bit I think," Cobb said. "Obviously I'd like to hit him in the chest, but you try to be a little bit too perfect, you try to give him a little bit of a lead up the line so they can try to get their momentum going that way, but if I could do it all over again I'd throw it right at the bag and let him get the one out and be done with it."
Randal Grichuk followed with an RBI single to tie the game and, two batters later, Aledmys Diaz hit into a run-scoring double play. Toronto again capitalized with the extra opportunity, scoring on a single from Luke Maile. Cobb finished the inning surrendering three unearned runs.
In the fifth inning, Teoscar Hernandez scored from third when Cobb balked. It was the Orioles' seventh balk of the season, tying them for the Major League lead at the conclusion of Saturday's game.
"I don't think Alex was trying to gain an advantage there, he just stepped off after he started his motion," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "By the letter of the law, you call him, but most of all of our [balks] are no advantage being gained."
Cobb allowed only one earned run over five innings pitched. He struck out four, but he was pulled after throwing 88 pitches due to a developing blister.
"I wasn't going to let him go out there for 10 more pitches with a blister starting to develop," Showalter said.
Stroman kept the Orioles offense grounded all afternoon. He only allowed the lone first-inning run, and struck out seven batters over seven innings.
"I think the key to the game is we scored one run," Showalter said. "Let's face it, he was getting a little extra help off the plate today obviously, good veteran pitchers will make use of that."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Jones held at third: Jones led off the fourth inning with a double, the 301st of his career. Trumbo followed with a strikeout, then Chris Davis was hit by a pitch, moving Jones to second. The centerfielder advanced to third on a wild pitch, but the Orioles couldn't add to their early one-run lead.
Britton too strong: Showalter went with reliever Zach Britton in the eighth inning. Britton, subject of trade rumors, gave up a leadoff walk to Smoak, but retired the next three batters. His sinker was sitting at around 95 mph, about 1 mph slower than last season.
"I knew Zach was going to be a little rusty, fortunately he got a double-play ball," Showalter said. "He's only got 16 outs on the year, he's fresh. He's almost too strong right now."
The Orioles lead the Major Leagues with 27 games in which they've been held to one or fewer runs in a game.
HE SAID IT
"I worked really hard my whole career to have a real nice looking record, because whether you're a casual fan or real in-depth into the numbers, the first thing you see on the back of your card is your win-loss, and I've always taken pride in that my whole career. ... I mean, I absolutely hate seeing that win-loss in parentheses next to my name, it's sickening." -- Cobb, on his 2-13 record this season
Andrew Cashner (2-9, 4.56) returns from the 10-day disabled list to take on the Blue Jays in the series finale on Sunday at 1:07 p.m. ET at Rogers Centre. The 31-year-old right-hander was dealing with a neck strain since after his previous outing against the Yankees, in which he allowed five runs in 6 1/3 innings. J.A. Happ (10-6, 4.29 ERA) will make his first start since recording a save in the All-Star Game. He's coming off three consecutive rocky starts, allowing 18 runs (13 earned) in 12 innings.
Aaron Rose is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto.