BLUE JAYS WIN SERIES VS. O’S, MOVE 4.5 GAMES CLEAR IN WILD CARD RACE
2022-09-16 · 3 min read · MLB/Baseball
Source (Background photos): Getty Images
Going into a four-games-in-three night series against Toronto, Baltimore had control of their own destiny - a four-game sweep would have put them a game-and-a-half up on Toronto for the last Wild Card spot, with a month to go. A legitimate playoff shot for a remarkable team that everyone had pegged as one of the worst in the league. With a little luck, they’d be the underdog story of the season.
Bryan Baker and co. had different ideas.
The series kicked off Monday, in a rare doubleheader that featured Kevin Gausman going up against Mike Baumann followed by Jose Berrios squaring off against Keegan Akin. Both games were fairly close, resulting in a 7-3 Toronto win succeeded by an 8-4 Jays victory. Gausman worked into the 7th, finishing with 6 ⅔ innings allowing three runs and eight hits. Orioles’ OF Anthony Santander hit a solo home run off of Gausman in the first, Baltimore’s only lead of the game. Bo Bichette and Teoscar Hernandez provided much of the opposing damage, as three hits for Bo and an 8th inning solo shot for Hernandez off of - take note - Baltimore reliever Bryan Baker propelled Toronto to their first win of the day.
In the nightcap, Berrios went six solid innings allowing three runs (two earned) allowing eight hits - an eerily similar linescore to that of Gausman just mere hours earlier. The story of Toronto’s second win was brought to you by Bo Bichette, smashing three home runs - scoring five of Toronto’s eight runs - en route to an 8-4 Jays’ win. Recently recalled Julian Merryweather allowed a run in the bottom of the ninth, his first Major League action in quite a while. A day-night sweep resulted in the Orioles falling to 4.5 games back, a substantial decline resulting in a possible 4-game swing over the span of fewer than twelve hours.
Game three, known to no one as the ‘Bryan Baker Game’ because nobody knew who he was, consisted of a drama-filled, poorly-umpired 9-6 Baltimore win. Mitch White struggled mightily again, the start of what would be a prolonged evening of yelling between the two clubs. After allowing another run in his one inning of work, the little-known ex-Jay reliever Bryan Baker seemingly had some words with his former team after striking out Matt Chapman to retire the side in the 7th. The 27-year-old righty who pitched in all of one MLB game with Toronto last year, who currently owns a 4.24 ERA after allowing runs in back-to-back days against Toronto, turned towards the Jays’ dugout as he was walking off the field - the spark that ignited benches to clear and bullpens to… lightly jog in from the outfield.
The aggression carried into the bottom of 7th, when Umpire Jeff Nelson ejected Jays’ skipper John Schneider for arguing balls and strikes - an issue both Managers had with Nelson throughout the game. It seemed to be a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ someone was getting tossed, as questionable calls ran amok for both sides since the first pitch.
Jays’ Manager John Schneider argues with Umpire Jeff Nelson after being ejected in the seventh inning.
Trevor Richards allowed three runs in the eighth inning to bust the game open, leading to a 9-6 Baltimore win - and the series shifting to 2-1. Connections between Nelson and the Jays were made in previous games, as he called Jays’ Kevin Gausman for a blatantly incorrect balk the day prior as well as having one of the worst-umped games (according to UmpScorecards) when he was behind the dish for a Toronto game earlier in the year.
In the series-concluding game, Toronto - led by a dominating 8 innings from Alek Manoah - took the finale 4-1. The only Baltimore run was an RBI triple by none other than Toronto-killer Ryan Mountcastle in the bottom of the first to, once again, give Baltimore a short-lived lead. Jordan Romano picked up his 31st save of the season, and Toronto moved to 4.5 up on Baltimore - the spot they currently sit in. A decisive series victory, one that may be the nail in the coffin of Baltimore’s underdog tale.
A day off Thursday, and then Toronto opens up a three-game series against the beleaguered Texas Rangers. The Jays return to Toronto next week and open up a series against Tampa - including another doubleheader - before Baltimore makes an appearance in what likely will be a make-it-or-break-it series one way or another. Plenty of games before then though, as Ross Stripling will get the nod against Texas’ Dane Dunning this Friday in the Lone Star State.
By: Gus Cousins