BALTIMORE—Through six innings, the Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays played a crisp, even game that was tied at 2. In the seventh, the Orioles experienced yet another one of those nightmare innings in a season that’s thankfully nearing its end.
Less than 24 hours after allowing six runs in the ninth to lose a game they thought was in hand, came another six-run inning as the Orioles lost their fourth straight, to the Toronto Blue Jays, 8-4.
Gabriel Ynoa retired the first batter of the seventh and left after Randal Grichuk’s double.
Tanner Scott walked his only two batters, Reese McGuire and Rowdy Tellez, to load the bases.
Dillon Tate walked Derek Fisher to put Toronto ahead, 3-2. After Bo Bichette struck out, Cavan Biggio, who went 8-for-16 with eight RBIs in the three-game series, singled on an 0-2 pitch to drive in two. Lourdes Gurriel singled for another, and Vladimir Guerrero doubled for two more, and the Orioles were suddenly behind, 8-2.
“It’s just young guys that are really inconsistent,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Our lack of command out of the ‘pen this year has been a struggle, and some nights we have it and some nights we don’t. You’re never really sure what you’re going to get.”
Ynoa was credited with a quality start and the loss.
The Orioles’ four-game losing streak is their 11th of four or more, and they were swept for the 13th time this season. Their record is 49-104 with nine games to play.
“It was really tough, but you know, things like that happen and it’s a learning experience for our guys,” Trey Mancini said.
“We have had a lot of games kind of slip away from us and hopefully after it keeps happening we can find ways to limit the damage in those innings. Like I said, we’ve got a lot of guys just learning some valuable lessons here in September.”
Hays makes spectacular catch: Thanks to two double plays in the first three innings, Ynoa faced the minimum nine batters. With one out in the fourth, Biggio, who hit for the cycle on Tuesday, hit his 15th homer followed immediately by Gurriel’s 20th.
Guerrero nearly hit the third straight homer, but Austin Hays leaped and caught Guerrero’s ball as it was heading over the fence. Guerrero tipped his helmet to Hays.
Hays thought he’d been playing in his initial Arizona Fall League games this week but instead got to make a sensational play in front of a modest Camden Yards crowd. Hays pounded his chest three times, then pounded his glove while Ynoa exulted by throwing his arms in the air.
“It’s kind of the catch you dream about playing in the backyard, playing Wiffle Ball and all that, so that was pretty cool,” Hays said. “That might be the first time since I was in high school that I robbed a home run. Definitely a cool experience.”
Ynoa was relieved and excited.
“Spectacular play,” he said through a translator. “It was going to be three home runs in a row, so he saved me big time there.
“I wanted to run to center field, hug him, jumping up and down because it was an amazing play.”
Hays, who was at home two weeks ago when he found out the Orioles had made him a late addition to their September roster, smiled when asked to describe his reaction.
“It’s just raw emotion,” Hays said. “You don’t get to do something like that every day. It’s few and far between when a play like that happens. That was just my excitement coming out.
“I saw some guys tipping their caps, so I tipped my cap back. I saw Vlad Jr. kind of take his helmet off, kind of give me recognition for making the catch, just a lot of excitement from all the guys reaching up and making that.”
The Orioles scored a run in the third when Austin Wynns singled against Anthony Kay, Toronto’s “featured pitcher.” Wilmer Font opened with two scoreless innings.
Wynns scored on Mancini’s double. Anthony Santander struck out, but Kay’s pitch eluded catcher Ryan McGuire, and runners were on first and third.
The Orioles tied the game at 2 in the bottom of the fifth when Hanser Alberto scored on Santander’s fielder’s choice.
Mancini, who equaled a career-high with four hits, doubled to score Wynns in the seventh, and Hays homered with two outs in the eighth to cap off his evening.
In the first three months of the year, Mancini’s average was consistently over .300, then dipped to .270 on August 23. It’s now .286.
“Overall I feel good up there and trying to stay committed to my plan,” Mancini said. “I think we all want to finish strong and put good at-bats together, so that’s what I’m trying to do.”
Coming up: Richard Bleier will start for the Orioles on Friday as they begin a three-game series with the Seattle Mariners. It will be the Orioles’ final home series of the season.
It will be Bleier’s first start of his major league career, and it’s expected that Aaron Brooks will follow him. Bleier will be the 18th starter used by the Orioles.
He’ll be opposed by Felix Hernandez, making what’s expected to be the penultimate start of his sterling career.
The 33-year-old Hernandez will pitch for the ninth time in Baltimore, and just the second since 2011.
The Orioles will close the season with three-game series in Toronto and Boston.