BALTIMORE—In the top of the 10th inning, Orioles manager Brandon Hyde decided to insert Chris Davis as a defensive replacement for Renato Nuñez at first base.
In a 2020 innovation, teams are given a runner on second base to start each extra inning, and that was key in the Orioles’ 8-7 loss, their third straight and fourth in the last five games to the Toronto Blue Jays Tuesday night at Camden Yards.
The Orioles’ record is 12-11.
Travis Shaw began the Blue Jays’ 10th at second. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was walked by Orioles reliever Cole Sulser. Danny Jansen advanced the runners with a sacrifice, and Lourdes Gurriel hit a smash on which Davis made a diving stop.
His throw home from a sitting position to catcher Pedro Severino was in plenty of time to nab Shaw, but it bounced and Severino failed to catch it. Davis was charged with an error.
“That was just a great play getting to the ball, and he was trying to make a game-saving play,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “No fault for that. Him catching the ball saved a run and just tried to make a great play, and it skipped up on Sevy, He threw it from his rear end. Give credit to CD for getting a tough ball down the line.”
In the bottom of the 10th, Dwight Smith Jr., who began the inning at second, was thrown out in a rundown between third and home after running through third base coach Jose Flores’ stop sign on Cedric Mullins’ one-out single. Bryan Holaday popped out to end the game.
“Disappointed that we didn’t score in the bottom half,” Hyde said. “We had an opportunity, and made a mistake. Tough loss.”
Anthony Santander, who has had a stellar run, hit a long two-run homer against Toronto rookie Nate Pearson in the first. It was his eighth. Santander has a career-high 13-game hitting streak.
“It’s been tough, for sure,” Santander said of the Orioles’ recent losses through a translator.
Randal Grichuk continues to torment the Orioles. He hit a two-run homer against Wade LeBlanc in the third. Grichuk, who also homered on Monday night, has four home runs this season and 14 in 32 games against the Orioles.
Santander lined a home run into the Orioles’ bullpen leading off the third, his second two-home run game in the last three days. He also added a double in the eighth, and an outfield assist with a fine throw to rub out Shaw at second when he tired to stretch a single leading off the seventh.
“Both of them were key,” Santander said of his hitting and his defense. “I also think that maybe the throw a little bit later on in the game, I think that was more important. I was able to get the guy out at second base and keep us [in the game.]”
The Orioles’ 3-2 lead lasted until the fifth when Toronto scored five runs.
Anthony Alford and Santiago Espina began the fifth with singles, and Travis Lakins replaced LeBlanc, who allowed five runs in four-plus innings. LeBlanc’s ERA is 7.89.
“Some balls went through the shift,” Hyde said. “It was a little bit of an unlucky outing. Them being primarily right-handed, their lineup, getting to the third time through, I felt like I wanted to try to stay in the game.
“We had the lead and we had the right-handed bullpen guys, and it just didn’t happen for us. Good job, nice job, just an unlucky inning there.”
Grichuk doubled to give Toronto a 4-3 lead, and Shaw’s home run, his third, put them ahead 7-3.
Chance Sisco hit a two-run home run in the fifth against Pearson. Renato Nuñez’s sacrifice fly scored Rio Ruiz, and the Orioles trailed, 7-6, after five.
In the seventh, the Orioles rallied with two outs against A.J. Cole. Nuñez had an infield single. Severino doubled. Smith Jr. was walked intentionally, and Hanser Alberto hit a smash to third and was safe at first, allowing Nuñez to score with the tying run.
Lineup changes: Alberto, who had started each of the Orioles’ first 21 games, was not in the starting lineup. He’d been hitless in his last nine at-bats, and struck out in five of them.
Hyde encouraged Alberto to arrive late at the ballpark, and he was the Orioles’ representative at the pregame meeting with the umpires.
Alberto, who had been the leadoff hitter in the previous 15 games, was replaced by Sisco, who was the designated hitter.
The Orioles haven’t had a catcher bat leadoff since Floyd Rayford on June 26, 1985.
Welcome back: Former Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph returned to Baltimore for the first time since he left the team after the 2018 season.
Joseph, who played with the Orioles from 2014-2018, had an eventful career and an engaging personality.
He’s on the Blue Jays’ taxi squad but hasn’t been activated. Because of Toronto’s unusual scheduling arrangement with “home” games in Buffalo, they’re allowed a taxi squad for all games.
Joseph is enjoying his time back in Baltimore but finds the changes since he left jarring.
“It is a bit unrecognizable,” Joseph said. “There are some pieces there that you know, the bones and the structure of the stadium, the clubhouse, the media. It’s like the bones are still there, but the blood is different. You’ve got [Alex] Cobb, and you’ve got [Chris] Davis, but it really is an odd sight looking at the game from that side, the third base side of the field, that was really hard. I’m so used to seeing it from the first base side.”
Joseph, who’s a devoted fan of the NHL’s Nashville Predators, has adopted a hockey custom after Blue Jays’ wins.
“Because we’re Canadian, we do three stars of the game,” Joseph said. “Working on my French so we can rival Montreal and all those incredible hockey towns.”
Coming up: The Orioles play their only scheduled weekday afternoon home game of the season on Wednesday when they face the Blue Jays at 1:05 p.m.
The game was originally scheduled as a night game but was changed so Toronto could play a makeup doubleheader with Philadelphia on Thursday in Buffalo.