Offense falls short in loss
three-run hole just five batters into the game.
But by the end of the night, you couldn’t have asked more of the Orioles rotation. Gallardo would go much deeper than he did in his previous start, a 11⁄ inning outing Friday night at Yankee Stadium that was the shortest start of his career. He righted himself against a Blue Jays lineup full of dangerous hitters, retiring the final 10 batters he faced.
Gallardo walked off the mound after six innings having given the Orioles their third quality start this series. Instead of the starting rotation, the team’s wildly inconsistent offense took the blame.
“I look more at the body of work,” manager Buck Showalter said of Gallardo. “If you told me coming in that he would have held them to three over six, I’d have liked our chances. We didn’t really score a lot of runs all three games [a total of nine] and that’s really a tribute to their starting pitching as much as anything.”
The Orioles entered the series banking on left-hander Wade Miley, right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez and Gallardo, all of whom have struggled in Orioles uniforms, while Toronto sent starters with sub-3.40 ERAs — Marco Estrada, J.A. Happ and Aaron Sanchez — to the mound for one of the most pivotal division series in the regular season’s final weeks.
But the Orioles rotation couldn’t be blamed for this series loss — their first in three series against Toronto at Camden Yards — as each starter recorded a quality start. Include Kevin Gausman’s seven shutout innings Sunday in New York and the Orioles starters have had a 3.12 ERA over the past four games, exactly what you want down the stretch.
“I was really impressed with that, really proud of them. But it’s tough. It’s kind of frustrating,” Showalter said of the rotation. “We’ve got some quality starting pitching and we were in them. The tack-on runs were tough.”
Gallardo fell behind early in an ugly way. Orioles nemesis Jose Bautista sent Gallardo’s first delivery into the left-center-field seats. And after walking Michael Saunders with two out, Gallardo hung a full-count slider that Russell Martin parked in the first row of the right-field stands above the grounds crew shed.
TheOrioles rotation struggles in the first inning are evident. Countless times this season, an Orioles starter has struggled in the first Orioles designated hitter Pedro Alvarez walks past Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin after striking out in the fourth inning. inning before finding his footing. The Orioles have an unsightly 5.35 ERA in the opening inning, when they have allowed 25 homers.
But to Gallardo’s credit, he found his groove after escaping a one-out bases-loaded jam in the third. After he allowed back-toback singles to Bautista and Josh Donaldson to open the inning — and both moved into scoring position on a wild pitch — Gallardo struck out slugger Edwin Encarnacion and walked Saunders intentionally with first base open.
Gallardo then induced a double-play ball to third baseman Manny Machado, who stepped on the bag and threw across the infield to trigger Gallardo’s escape. Martin was the first of 10 straight batters retired by Gallardo to end his night.
“It’s frustrating. It’s never easy for these guys to come from behind, especially in the first inning, giving up three runs in the first inning,” Gallardo said. “But after that, I was just able to put up zeros and make pitches whenever I had to and get some ground balls and get out of some tough jams.”
Gallardo left with the Orioles trailing 3-1 and the game within reach, but his bullpen didn’t help as Mychal Givens allowed a run in the seventh and Brad Brach yielded a solo homer to Saunders in the eighth.
The Orioles didn’t have many chances against Sanchez — they were 0-for-3 against him with runners in scoring position — but got a rare chance in the fifth and couldn’t break through. They rallied with two outs on singles by Hyun Soo Kim and Jonathan Schoop, an inning kept alive when Donaldson booted a grounder by Machado to third, enabling Kim to score. Chris Davis loaded the bases with a walk, but slugger Mark Trumbo flied out harmlessly to right to end the final threat.
“It’s tough, because we’re chasing them and they take two out of the three,” Schoop said. “We’ve just got to learn from it, get a good off-day tomorrow and come back stronger than we were. With September coming in, we’ve just got to compete and play hard and try to win as many games as possible.”