Orioles rally past Blue Jays to close in on AL playoff spot
BALTIMORE (AP) — Whether they make the postseason or not, the Baltimore Orioles have brought playoff-level excitement back to Camden Yards lately.
An eighth-inning homer that turned a deficit into a lead? Check.
A ninth-inning showdown between their young closer and one of the game's top sluggers? Check.
Rougned Odor hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth, and the Orioles rallied for a 6-5 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night. Toronto had a man on second in the ninth, but Félix Bautista retired Vladimir Guerrero Jr. on a lineout to end it.
“You look around, and there’s a lot of good players on this team, a lot of young guys that not a lot of people know," Odor said. “There’s a lot of good talent on this team, and we play together and we have fun, and when we have fun, a lot of good things happen.”
The Orioles trailed 5-3 in the sixth when the game was delayed 78 minutes because of rain. Then Baltimore cut the lead in half on Ryan Mountcastle's RBI double in the seventh. Odor connected off Yimi Garcia (1-4) to give the Orioles the lead an inning later.
Nick Vespi (4-0) struck out his only two hitters in the eighth, preventing the Blue Jays from adding to what was then a one-run lead. Bautista pitched the ninth for his sixth save.
Santiago Espinal hit an infield single off Bautista with one out and went to second on a throwing error by Odor, the second baseman. After Lourdes Gurriel Jr. struck out, Guerrero hit a liner to second.
Bo Bichette hit two home runs for Toronto, including a three-run shot in the sixth. Guerrero extended his hitting streak to 20 games with a sixth-inning single.
The Orioles entered the night trailing Seattle by one game for the final wild card in the American League. The Mariners hosted the New York Yankees on Tuesday night.
Toronto appeared to pull off a triple play in the first inning only to have it overturned by a replay review. The Blue Jays trailed 3-1 before scoring four runs in the sixth.
Alejandro Kirk hit an RBI single to chase Baltimore starter Kyle Bradish, then Bryan Baker allowed a walk and Bichette's homer.
Bichette also hit a solo shot in the second.
All-Star Alek Manoah allowed three runs and eight hits in five innings for the Blue Jays.
The game was delayed between the top and bottom of the sixth. It took a few minutes for the hard rain to begin after the start of the delay. Toronto had brought reliever Zach Pop into the game to start the bottom of the sixth, but the field was cleared before he faced anyone. The Blue Jays were allowed to replace him when the game resumed.
“I think the rain delay hurt us with a little momentum we had,” Toronto manager John Schneider said. “Wasn't quite sure why they pulled the tarp when they did, to be honest with you. We burned a pitcher because of it.”
The Orioles had some adventures on the bases from the beginning. After their first two hitters reached base, Anthony Santander hit a sinking liner and center fielder Whit Merrifield tried to make a sliding catch. It was ruled a catch initially, although the Baltimore runners didn't seem to think so. They didn't go back to their original bases, giving Toronto an easy triple play.
The call was overturned after a review, leaving the bases loaded with nobody out. Mountcastle immediately grounded into a double play, bringing one run home, and then Terrin Vavra hit an RBI single to make it 2-0.
In the third, the Orioles had men on second and third with one out. This time, the review didn't go their way. Manoah's pitch got past the catcher, although Vavra was ruled to have swung at it. Santander scored easily from third.
However, a replay showed the pitch actually hit Vavra as he swung at it, meaning the runners were put back on second and third and the at-bat continued. Vavra hit a sacrifice fly to make it 3-1, but that was all the Orioles managed that inning.
In the fourth, Odor led off with a single, but when Ramón Urías followed with a single, Odor ended up in a rundown between second and third and was tagged out.
Bradish allowed three runs and five hits in 5 1/3 innings.
Bautista got ahead 0-2 on Guerrero, then threw a third straight fastball — clocked at 100.9 mph. Guerrero was able to put it in play, but in the wrong spot.
“I didn't like the 0-2 hittable fastball,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “I would have loved to have seen the pitches he threw to Gurriel, to Guerrero. But got it done, and I know that's a great feeling for him.”
Blue Jays: Merrifield was the last man to bat before the rain delay, and he was replaced afterward, but there was no injury announced.
José Berríos (8-4) takes the mound for the Blue Jays in the series finale against Baltimore's Dean Kremer (4-3) on Wednesday night. The Orioles try for a three-game sweep.
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