The Baltimore Orioles beat the Toronto Blue Jays 9-3 Tuesday night to extend their division lead over their Canadian foes to five games. Bud Norris picked up the victory for the O’s, as the Oriole starter threw 5 1/3 innings, giving up 7 hits, 2 ER, 2 walks, and striking out 6 batters. While the Orioles offense has been a bit anemic as of late, the bats came out in full force Tuesday night. Every Baltimore starter in the lineup picked up at least one hit in the game.
Nick Markakis extended his modest five-game hitting streak with a single into center field to lead off the game for the Orioles. Following a slick double play turned by Jose Reyes and Munenori Kawasaki, Baltimore was able to load the bases. Adam Jones and Delmon Young each stroked singles and Nelson Cruz walked. Although the Orioles offense put up three hits and a walk in the opening inning, the Birds could not score in the frame.
Young reached base for the second time on the night with a four-pitch walk in the top of the 3rd inning. Baltimore would then get on the board first, as J.J. Hardy crushed an RBI double off of the right-center field wall. Young hustled around the diamond to score easily and gave the Orioles the 1-0 lead.
Caleb Joseph continued his hot hitting with a solo home run to lead off the top of the 4th inning. Joseph went into Tuesday night’s game on an 11 for 30 (.367) streak and the home run gave the catcher a dinger in three straight games. Not to be outdone, Jonathan Schoop fired a bullet over the left field fence to give the Orioles back-to-back homers in the frame.
With still no outs in the inning, and now a 3-0 Orioles lead, Markakis and Manny Machado hit consecutive singles following the home runs. Markakis would later score on an odd single by Young that ate up former Orioles farmhand (and just inserted into the game) Danny Valencia at third base. Baltimore would take a 4-0 lead entering the bottom of the 4th inning.
Blue Jays catcher Dioner Navarro led off the bottom of the 4th inning with a single into the right field corner. Following a strike out and a ground out, Norris gave up a long two-run home run to Colby Rasmus to cut the Baltimore lead in half.
Chris Davis, who entered the game in a 1 for 19 (.053) slump, smashed a solo home run well into the seats over the right field fence in the 5th inning. The home run for Davis was his first since July 25th and his 18th homer of the season. Davis hit in the 7th spot in the lineup for the first time in almost two years. The run in the 5th frame stretched the Orioles’ lead over the Blue Jays to 5-2.
Markakis reached base for the third time in the game with a leadoff walk to start the 6th inning. Following a Machado fielder’s choice, Jones was able to reach on a walk. Cruz would break his 3 for 37 (.081) slump in the inning with an RBI single into left field. The RBI was only Cruz’s second over his last 10 games.
Valencia shot a single into left field with one out in the 6th inning. The hit by Valencia would turn out to be the final batter that Norris would face in the game. Although Norris only threw 84 pitches, and he pitched a solid game, manager Buck Showalter brought in reliever Brian Matusz to face the left-handed Rasmus. Matusz went on to strike out Rasmus (and former Oriole Nolan Reimold) to end the inning.
Anthony Gose, Reyes, and Melky Cabrera all smacked singles into left field to start off the bottom of the 7th inning. With no outs and the bases loaded, Jose Bautista launched a sacrifice fly into right field to cut the Baltimore lead to 6-3. The Orioles were able to get out of the inning without further damage, as Navarro hit into an inning-ending double play.
Much like Toronto did in their half of the 7th inning, Baltimore put their first three runners on base in the top of the 8th inning. Machado and Young walked and Jones hit a single just out of the reach of Cabrera in left field. The Orioles tacked on runs from a Cruz sacrifice fly, a Hardy RBI single, and a Davis sacrifice fly in the frame to give Baltimore the 9-3 lead.
The Orioles were able to finish off the victory without giving up any further runs in the game. Tommy Hunter, Andrew Miller, and T.J. McFarland closed out the game for Baltimore. The two top East Division teams will play game two of the three-game set in Toronto Wednesday night. Wei-Yin Chen (12-3, 3.76 ERA) will try for his sixth consecutive victory, while Drew Hutchinson (7-9, 4.62 ERA) will try to tame the Orioles offense.