Small ball helps se­cure big victory

Baltimore Sun - - ORIOLES - By Ed­uardo A. Encina eencina@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/Ed­dieInTheYard

TORONTO — With their sea­son on the line, the Ori­oles put away their power bats and in­stead opted for small ball as the path to their 4-0 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Thurs­day night at Rogers Cen­tre.

The Ori­oles lead the ma­jors with 247 home runs this sea­son, and on nights when they haven’t been able to hit the ball out of the park, their of­fense has had few other answers.

But they of­fered a much dif­fer­ent look Thurs­day as they won for the sec­ond straight night and moved into a tie with the Blue Jays for the first Amer­i­can League wild-card spot. The Ori­oles fin­ish their reg­u­lar sea­son with three games at Yankee Sta­dium this week­end.

Re­sort­ing to small ball was a break from the norm for the Ori­oles, and even though their of­fense has been short on pro­duc­tion lately, Thurs­day’s out­put was more than enough for right-han­der Ubaldo Jimenez, whoal­lowed just one hit in 62⁄ score­less in­nings.

“We had some hits to take ad­van­tage of few op­por­tu­ni­ties that [ Blue Jays starter Mar­cus] Stro­man­gave us,” Ori­oles man­ager Buck Showal­ter said. “He’s been pitch­ing re­ally well, too.”

The Ori­oles (87-72) kept the ball in play against Stro­man and de­liv­ered hits with run­ners on base. Thurs­day marked just the sec­ond time in 12 games they’ve scored more than three runs.

“To­day we showed dif­fer­ent type of stuff,” said right-fielder Michael Bourn, who drove in a run, scored an­other, drew a walk and stole a base. “We’ve got good hit­ters on this team. They know how to do that. In the post­sea­son, if we are able to get to that point, you’ll need that as well.”

Af­ter J.J. Hardy opened the third in­ning with a dou­ble, Adam Jones moved him to third with a ground­out to the right side, and Hardy scored the game’s first run two bat­ters later on Manny Machado’s sac­ri­fice fly to deep cen­ter field.

The Ori­oles ral­lied again in the fourth, get­ting back-to-back one­out sin­gles from Chris Davis and Jonathan Schoopto put run­ners at the cor­ners. Bourn hit a grounder to third that could have been an in­ning-end­ing dou­ble play, butJosh Don­ald­son’s throw drew sec­ond base­man Devon Travis off the bag; the Blue Jays were lucky to get the force­out at sec­ond.

Hyun Soo Kim drove in Bourn on a two-out sin­gle to right field to give the Ori­oles a 3-0 lead in the sev­enth.

Mark Trumbo sped out of the bat­ter’s box in the eighth, stretch­ing a sin­gle into a lead­off dou­ble, then scored on Matt Wi­eters’ sin­gle. Ori­oles get key over­turned call: Jimenez fielded his po­si­tion well through­out the night and was the ben­e­fi­ciary of a call that was over­turned af­ter an Ori­oles man­ager’s chal­lenge in the sev­enth.

Troy Tu­low­itzki hit a ball just to the left of the mound that Jimenez bob­bled, but he re­cov­ered to make a throw to first. First base um­pire Ted Bar­rett ini­tially called Tu­low­itzki safe, but video re­view showed that Jimenez’s throw just beat Tu­low­itzki’s foot to the bag. Jones’ jolt just short: Jimenez and Stro­man kept dam­age to a min­i­mum through­out the night, and the hard­est hit ball was off the bat of Jones in the sev­enth. It ended as a long fly­out.

Blue Jays cen­ter fielder Kevin Pil­lar made a jump­ing catch against the cen­ter-field fence to take away a hit from Jones.

MARK BLINCH/CANA­DIAN PRESS

The Ori­oles’ Manny Machado, cen­ter, throws out the Blue Jays’ Kevin Pil­lar, left, as pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez watches dur­ing the fifth in­ning.

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