TORONTO — Plenty of star power and promising pitching by the Baltimore Orioles gave the Toronto Blue Jays every reason to resign themselves to a long night.
Through three innings, that is.
Edwin Encarnacion’s grand slam was the highlight of Toronto’s 12-6 win over the Orioles on Thursday, but the adjustments made by Adam Lind, J.P. Arencibia and Brandon Morrow helped the Blue Jays overcome an early 3-0 deficit.
Credit goes to Lind and Arencibia for being the first Toronto batters to figure out hard-throwing Orioles starter Kevin Gausman. Back-to-back doubles by the pair put the Jays on the scoreboard in the fourth inning, and they were back at it in the fifth following Arencibia’s two-run homer for a 4-3 lead.
“We were able to put some good at-bats,” said Arencibia. “Their starter’s got pretty good stuff and throws hard. Edwin hitting that ball gives us some breathing room, makes the game, definitely not easier but definitely makes it a little more relaxing.”
Arencibia said it helped to see Gausman’s arsenal after the first at-bat. The Orioles’ drafted the 22-year-old righty fourth overall last year, and he came into the game with just 13 games of pro experience and no appearances above double-A.
Gausman (0-1) was effective early on the strength of a fastball that touched 98 miles per hour, but he lasted just five innings after surrendering four earned runs on seven hits with five strikeouts and two walks.
Arencibia’s homer off Gausman put Toronto ahead for good. The Blue Jays’ catcher said he hoped it was a sign the team won’t break so easily when trailing against opponents.
“I think that we’ve shown some confidence. It just wasn’t going the way we needed it to go. … This game, it’s a game of failure. So everyone’s not going to be on their best every night. So everyone just to try to chip in and try to squeeze as many runs as we can.”
There was no doubting Toronto’s confidence after Encarnacion hit the team’s first grand slam of the season into the left-field foul net off reliever Pedro Strop in the sixth inning. Encarnacion matched Arencibia with four RBIs each for the Blue Jays (20-27).
Baltimore (25-22) looked to go on an early run after a two-run double by Manny Machado and the major-league leading 15th homer of the season by Orioles first baseman Chris Davis.
But Morrow (2-3) rolled with the hits and gave Toronto’s offence time to rally. The right-hander looked in control until the eighth inning when he gave up back-to-back homers. He finished the game with a season-high six earned runs allowed on 10 hits, with five strikeouts and a walk.
“I fell in a good rhythm and was rolling pretty good through there,” said Morrow. “Kind of had my sight set on finishing the game. It’s frustrating for me to go out give up the two home runs without getting an out there in the eighth. It’s a good win, but it put a sour taste in my mouth.”
Morrow also struggled whenever Machado was at the plate. The Orioles’ star third baseman hit three doubles off Morrow and leads baseball with 21 on the season.
Morrow wasn’t all that bothered by it after the game. “Well, I mean, he just scored once right? Wasn’t all that bad,” he said.
Gausman meanwhile didn’t seem as though he’d taken a loss. He won praise from both team’s managers on a night he said he’d been waiting for his whole life.
“Definitely a learning experience for me but it was awesome. It was everything I could have imagined and more,” said Gausman.
The game turned contentious in the sixth inning when Colby Rasmus’s hit forced O’s outfielder Nate McLouth to dive into the left-field stands to make the catch. He went out of view but popped up with the ball in his glove as Blue Jays fans around him waved off the catch. That prompted a drink thrown at McLouth from the stands and a trip to the outfield by the umpires and Baltimore manager Buck Showalter.
In the end, Rasmus was ruled out and McLouth stayed in the game.
“It just kind of startled me for a second,” McLouth said of the tossed drink. “I’m not really sure how close it landed. That’s just one person doing something they shouldn’t do.”
Encarnacion’s grand slam later in the inning put Toronto ahead for good.
J.J. Hardy scored in the seventh for Baltimore, which made a game of it in the eighth when Markakis and Jones hit back-to-back home runs off Morrow.
The Blue Jays added plenty of insurance in the bottom of the inning. First, Anthony Gose stole home from second base on a passed ball by O’s reliever T.J. McFarland for a 9-6 lead. Gose just barely beat the relay and home plate umpire Tony Randazzo’s safe call prompted another visit from Showalter.
“I think that (Gose) could spare some of his speed and give it to me,” quipped Arencibia.
Encarnacion and Mark DeRosa walked to load the bases before Arencibia knocked in his fourth run of the night. Lawrie followed with a broken bat single to score Encarnacion, and Rasmus hit a sac fly to bring home DeRosa for a 12-6 lead in an inning that saw every Blue Jay hitter visit the plate.