The Toronto Blue Jays will need to avoid missteps against the Orioles if they want to maintain a healthy lead in the playoff race for a draft spot. Monday in Baltimore, they stumbled a first time losing 7 to 4.
Trailing 6-2 after seven innings, the visitors woke up to their eighth turn at bat. Raimel Tapia first hit a one-run single, then Danny Jansen hit a sacrifice fly, closing the lead to two runs.
Arrived as reinforcements to the mound, while there had two runners on the trail and two outs recorded, Felix Bautista ended the threat by forcing Whit Merrifield to hit a ground ball.
Trailing by three runs at the start of the ninth inning, after seeing the Orioles add a run in turn to the plate, the Jays threatened again, allowing their first two batters to reach the bases. Bautista, however, recorded the next three outs, signing his fifth save of the campaign.
In the standings, the only Canadian formation in major league baseball maintains the first rank of the teams drafted, a game and a half ahead of the Rays of Tampa Bay and the Seattle Mariners. The latter, however, played late in the evening on Monday. The Rays, for their part, came within a game and a half of the Rays and Mariners.
The Blue Jays won't have to take the Orioles lightly until the end of the season, as the two teams will play five series between them, including this one which will stretch until Wednesday.
More trouble for Kikuchi
The games follow each other and are unfortunately too similar for the Toronto team when Yusei Kikuchi acts as starting pitcher.
Facing the Orioles, the fickle gunner was put to the test again, forcing his teammates to play catch-up baseball.
Kikuchi (4-6) gave the crowd favorites in the opening round, before allowing two more in the third round. He was finally retired after five innings of work, allowing five runs on six hits and three walks.
John Schneider's men will be hoping for a little more consistency in the second game of the series , Tuesday, they who should see the young Alek Manoah start the game.