EditorsNote: minor update
Blue Jays use home runs to beat Orioles
BALTIMORE — Following a scary play that chased reliable starting pitcher Marcus Strowman from the game, the bats and the bullpen delivered for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Kevin Pillar, Josh Donaldson and Darwin Barney each homered to lead the Toronto Blue Jays to a 7-2 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday night at Camden Yards.
Following Stroman’s departure after being struck by a line drive by the Orioles’ Mark Trumbo, the Blue Jays bullpen delivered 7 1/3 innings of strong relief, limiting Baltimore to a pair of runs on six hits on an unseasonably cool night in Baltimore.
With the game-time temperature hovering just above 60 degrees, the last-place Blue Jays (62-73) have won two of the first three games in this four-game weekend series and can claim their first series of the season against American League East rival Baltimore (69-67) with another win Sunday.
“Collectively, the pitchers, they pitched very well,” said Toronto bench coach DeMarlo Hale, who was the team’s acting manager since John Gibbons missed the game due to a personal matter. “You never get comfortable in this park because it’s a hitter-friendly park, but I think our pitchers pitched the ball very well.”
Stroman (11-6, 3.11 ERA) was struck on his throwing elbow by a 108 mph line drive off the bat of Trumbo just an inning and two-thirds into his outing. After writhing in pain on the ground for several moments, Stroman eventually walked off the field with a trainer.
“I mean, it’s just scary, right, at first,” he said. “Trumbo hits the ball unbelievably hard, man, and it just caught me right on my elbow. So, obviously you panic right at first. It just felt like my arm exploded.”
Precautionary x-rays on Stroman’s right elbow were negative. He was diagnosed with an elbow contusion and is considered day-to-day.
“I just kind of panicked at first because it felt like my arm just kind of blew up,” Stroman said. “But, once I kind of started to squeeze my hand while I was on the ground, and kind of feel that I had my strength in my wrist and my hand, I kind of felt a little better. And then that’s what kind of urged me to kind of want to stay in the game.”
Pillar staked the Blue Jays to a 1-0 lead with his 14th home run of the season. He led off the fifth inning by lining an 0-2 pitch from Orioles starter Wade Miley over the wall in left.
“I thought I was pretty good,” said Miley, who took the loss after six innings of work to fall to 8-11. “Mistake to Pillar right there. It was not a good pitch, 0-2.”
Donaldson followed with two outs in the seventh by blasting his 24th home run of the season deep into the left-field seats off Orioles reliever Richard Rodriguez, 27, who was making his major league debut. That three-run homer was part of a 3-for-5 night for Donaldson and extended the Blue Jays lead to 5-0.
“That’s Josh,” Hale said. “He’s capable of that. He’s an all-star player.”
Barney then made it 7-0 in the eighth with a two-run homer to left off Orioles reliever Alec Asher, who was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk earlier in the day. It was the fourth home run of the season for Barney.
The Orioles, meanwhile, generated their only runs on a solo home run by right fielder Seth Smith in the eighth inning and an RBI single by Trumbo in the ninth. For Smith, it was his 13th home run of the season.
Baltimore fell 2 1/2 games behind the Minnesota Twins in the chase for the second wild card in the American League.
“It’s a baseball game. We lost,” Smith said. “They scored more runs than us. There is no reason to look much further into it.”
NOTES: Blue Jays 1B Justin Smoak was 1-for-4 with a walk after missing the three prior games with a sore right calf muscle. ... Orioles OF Craig Gentry was placed on the 10-day disabled list after breaking the middle finger on his right hand while attempting to bunt during the third inning of Friday’s game. ... C Chance Sisco, 22, made his major league debut for the Orioles, entering the game in the top of the ninth inning. ... RHP Luis Santos, 26, made his major league debut in the fifth inning Saturday for the Blue Jays. After having his contract selected from Triple-A Buffalo earlier in the day, he pitched 3 1/3 innings, striking out three and allowing two hits, including the home run to Smith.