Baltimore Orioles' Ryan Mountcastle (6) slides safely into home ahead of a tag by Toronto Blue Jays' catcher Danny Jansen in the sixth inning of an American League baseball game in Toronto on Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jon Blacker

Orioles halt Blue Jays’ win streak at three with 4-2 victory

Orioles halt Blue Jays’ win streak at three with 4-2 victory

TORONTO — Hyun Jin Ryu was cruising. He had retired 15 batters in a row and enjoyed a no-hitter through 5 2/3 innings before crumbling in the sixth against the lowly Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday.

Ryu surrendered three runs in a 4-2 loss to the Orioles, the worst team in Major League Baseball. The defeat halted the Blue Jays’ modest three-game win streak before a crowd of 13,963 at Rogers Centre.

But Toronto (69-62) remained 4.5 games behind the Boston Red Sox in the battle for the second wild-card spot in the American League because the Red Sox dropped an 8-5 decision in Tampa Bay to the Rays.

There also was cause for concern when George Springer was removed in the seventh inning for a pinch-runner. Springer returned to the lineup on Monday after missing two weeks with a sprained left knee, his third lengthy stint on the injured list in 2021.

Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo reported the move to lift Springer was a precautionary measure, even though the designated hitter appeared disappointed about the careful decision.

“He wants to play,” Montoyo said. “Of course, he wants to be out there. He wants to help us win. That’s why I love the guy. We’ll see how he feels (on Wednesday).

“I saw something when he was running to first and then, of course, when he rounded second. We’ve got to be careful. We still have a month left.”

The Blue Jays also need Ryu (12-8) to be better as they enter the final 31 games and 33 days of the regular season. In his previous outing, he gave up three homers and seven runs in a 7-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox last Thursday.

He gave up a lead-off walk to Cedric Mullins to begin the game and a two-out free-pass to Anthony Santander in the first inning. But then Ryu retired 15 in a row and struck out six before his no-hit bid was broken up from a double to left centre from Orioles rookie Ryan Mountcastle.

Suddenly, a single from Austin Hays, another walk to Santander and a double from third baseman Ramon Urias put the Orioles (41-90) in front 3-1.

Ryu remarked he wasn’t thinking about his no-hit bid in the sixth. Instead, he wanted to keep the good vibrations from the fifth when he struck out the side.

“Earlier in the game, my pitch counts were high,” he said. “But I was able to get that down in the third and fourth innings. Overall, my pitches had better life.”

Catching Ryu on Tuesday was Danny Jansen. He missed 38 games with a strained right hamstring and made an impact in his return with a second-deck homer to left in the third inning to give Toronto a 1-0 lead.

Vladimir Guerrero pulled the Blue Jays to within 3-2 in the sixth his 39th homer of the year, and third in two games. He greeted Orioles reliever Jorge Lopez with a lead-off homer that just cleared the right-field wall.

But that’s as close as Toronto would get to its opponents. The Blue Jays have gone a dismal 8-38 when trailing after six innings.

The Orioles tacked on a fourth run in the seventh inning. Adam Cimber took over for Ryu. Cimber issued a lead-off walk to shortstop Jorge Mateo and then threw wildly on a pick-off attempt to allow Mateo to advance to third.

He scored on a Jahmal Jones line-drive single to centre.

Lopez replaced starter Keegan Akin (2-8), who now has back-to-back wins after losing his first eight decisions this season. Akin only gave up two hits, but his first was a lead-off homer to Jansen in the third inning.

To make room for Jansen, the Blue Jays optioned pitcher Trent Thornton to Triple-A Buffalo.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published August 31, 2021.

Tim Wharnsby, The Canadian Press

Baseball