Davis, Showalter tossed as Jays frustrate Orioles, widen wild-card lead
TORONTO — The unpredictable Orioles came to Rogers Centre with the chance to reclaim the first American League wild-card spot with a strong showing against the division-rival Toronto Blue Jays.
Now, after a 5-1 loss to Toronto on Tuesday night that exposed all the Orioles’ flaws — their first-inning pitching struggles and their recent inability to execute offensively with runners on base — their opportunities are disappearing by the day.
A frustrating night in Toronto, where the Orioles have lost six of eight games this season, ended with manager Buck Showalter and first baseman Chris Davis ejected from the game by plate umpire Will Little.
The Orioles have scored three runs or AL WILD CARD STANDINGS Toronto 87-70 Orioles 85-72 Detroit 84-73 Seattle* 83-73 Houston* 82-75 +2 — 1 11⁄ 3 fewer in nine of their past 10 games.
Just last week, the Orioles went into their four-game home series with the Boston Red Sox with the chance to make a run at the AL East lead, but lost all four games as their hopes of a division title disappeared quickly.
Now they’re playing for the wild-card game, and they entered their series opener in Toronto one game behind the Blue Jays for the top wild-card spot. But after Tuesday’s loss, the Orioles can at best leave Toronto tied with the Jays for the top wild-card spot heading into the final series of the regular season.
And with five games left, the chase for the second wild-card spot is again getting crowded quickly.
Right-hander Kevin Gausman fell behind 2-0 two batters into the first inning after allowing a two-run homer to reigning AL Most Valuable Player Josh Donaldson, a blast that came after Gausman walked leadoff hitter Ezequiel Carrera. Ten of the 27 homers Gausman has allowed this season have come in the first inning.
Gausman allowed multiple homers for the second straight start, yielding an
opposite-field solo homer to the light-hitting Carrera in the third.
The Orioles (85-72), who scored their only run on Mark Trumbo’s single in the third, stranded nine base runners, including multiple runners in three innings.
Left fielder Michael Bourn stranded four runners, two in scoring position. The Orioles were 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
After posting a 0.82 ERA over five starts, four of them scoreless, Gausman has allowed five runs in each of his past two starts.
Showalter seemed frustrated with Little’s strike zone from the start, when Toronto starter Aaron Sanchez recorded five of his first six outs by strikeout, but it boiled over in the seventh when Davis was unhappy with a strike-three call for his third strikeout of the night.
As Davis walked away, he turned to say something to Little, who ejected him quickly. Showalter then engaged Little and was tossed for his first ejection of the season.
Toronto catcher Russell Martin opened the fourth inning with a hit that one-hopped off the leftcenter-field fence, but J.J. Hardy’s relay throw from Bourn reached Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tosses his helmet after striking out in the first inning against Blue Jays starter Aaron Sanchez. second base in time to nab him sliding headfirst.
Toronto manager John Gibbons challenged the call, and the Rogers Centre crowd reacted as though Martin’s hand had beaten Jonathan Schoop’s sweep tag, but the call stood after video review.
Plate umpire Will Little throws the Orioles’ Chris Davis out of the game for arguing a called third strike in the seventh inning.