TORONTO -- The Orioles fell short of completing their first series sweep of the season on Sunday afternoon at Rogers Centre, falling 6-1 to the Blue Jays, but Baltimore enters the All-Star break having won two of its last three series with hopes of building some momentum in the second
TORONTO -- The Orioles fell short of completing their first series sweep of the season on Sunday afternoon at Rogers Centre, falling 6-1 to the Blue Jays, but Baltimore enters the All-Star break having won two of its last three series with hopes of building some momentum in the second half.
Asher Wojciechowski made his second start for the Orioles and battled through 4 1/3 up-and-down innings. The right-hander allowed three runs on four hits, highlighted by a two-run home run to centre field off the bat of Lourdes Gurriel Jr. in the first, but he settled in a bit after that and struck out six.
“He gave us a chance and pitched into the fifth inning on a day where you have your entire bullpen available,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “You can kind of do a lot of things because there’s no games the next four days. So I thought he did a nice job, he just missed a location on the homer in the first inning.”
• Box score
After Baltimore’s bats showed up to score 12 runs over the first two games of the series, they fell fairly quiet against Blue Jays’ starter Trent Thornton, who threw six scoreless innings before giving way to the bullpen. Chance Sisco launched a solo home run in the seventh inning, his sixth of the season, but that was all of the offense they could put together.
This puts the Orioles at 27-62 entering the All-Star break, which is a slight improvement from the same time last season when they sat at 24-65 after their first 89 games.
“Our starting pitching the last eight days has been pretty good,” Hyde said. “We love to see that. You can’t win in this league unless you pitch. When you look at our pitching, obviously it’s tough to win with a six ERA. I’d love to see our pitching numbers improve, love to see our bullpen guys come in and get outs and improve on their numbers.”
Wojciechowski started in place of Gabriel Ynoa, who was originally listed as Sunday’s starter but pitched in relief, instead. The Orioles also have right-hander Aaron Brooks expected to join the club out of the break after he was claimed off waivers from the A's on Monday, so while some question marks remain at the back end of the rotation and in the bullpen, there are still some encouraging signs for Hyde and his team to take into All-Star Week.
Top half of rotation performing
All-Star John Means has been excellent all season long for the Orioles, but he’s got some company now. Andrew Cashner is pitching very well with a 1.41 ERA over his last five starts, something he credits to improved fastball control and recent developments in his changeup.
The Orioles are well out of the playoff race, but this group gives them a strong mix of future value in Means and potential Trade Deadline value in Cashner, who is expected to be on the radar of contenders in search of rotation depth.
“It starts with our pitching. When we get good pitching, we have a chance to win,” Hyde said. “For the most past this year, Bundy, Means and Cashner have given us some good starts in a lot of those games.”
Following Sunday's game, the Orioles optioned David Hess to Triple-A Norfolk.
Life in the lineup
Renato Nunez has come a long way since bouncing around the waiver wire in early 2018. On Saturday, he became just the third player age 25 or under to hit 20 home runs before the All-Star break in Orioles’ history (since 1954), joining Boog Powell and Manny Machado.
Keep an eye on Chris Davis, too. It’s been another difficult season for the 33-year-old, but he homered in the opener in Toronto and collected two hits on Sunday, giving him six hits over his last four games.
Taking turns in center field
Baltimore used three different center fielders in three days against the Blue Jays, including Anthony Santander’s first ever start at the position. Stevie Wilkerson got the nod in the finale after homering in the second game of the series, but the highlight-reel play belongs to Keon Broxton on Saturday.
Freddy Galvis sent a fly ball 384 feet to right-center field, but Broxton ranged back and timed his jump perfectly to make the catch at the wall, earning praise from both Cashner and Hyde.