Apr 23, 2014; Nelson Cruz (23) connects for a grand slam home run against Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre… Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Two home runs by Nelson Cruz powered the Baltimore Orioles to a 10-8 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night. The big blow was a grand slam that brought the Orioles from a three-run deficit to a one-run lead.
This is the sort of offense Baltimore Orioles fans hoped to see in abundance for this 2014 season, as the Birds pounded out their 10 runs on 12 hits. However, the Jays tallied 16 total hits off Orioles pitching to keep the game close to the very end.
Baltimore starter Chris Tillman had an inning he will never forget when the Jays got to him for six runs in the 2nd frame. That kind of scoring usually happens to the Orioles in the 6th inning of games, and the Jays did add a run at that time. But even though Tillman completely lost his way in the second inning, he managed to shut down the Jays for the following three innings and not completely burn out the bullpen.
Tillman’s ERA went from 1.71 entering the game, to 3.38 by the time he exited with two outs in the 6th inning. The Orioles most reliable pitcher did get the win tonight to improve to 3-1. And there is justice in that after not getting wins multiple times last year after great performances. Tillman has now pitched 32 innings this season and given up 12 runs – half of them being in that second inning of this game, with the other half in the remaining 31 innings! Coming back from that horrific inning to get 11 more outs was an impressive recovery.
Nelson Cruz now has six home runs and 21 RBIs on the season. He is doing what the Orioles had hoped he would accomplish by providing extra production in the DH/LF portion of the order. Come back later today for an article that will compare the production numbers for each position as related to 2013. Hint – DH has the largest change! Here is what Cruz has done so far …
As the teens would say… in the category of “just sayin’” … this Tommy Hunter closer thing is not ultimately going to work out. Allowing three consecutive one-out singles to load the bases in the bottom of the 9th inning – only to escape it on a hard-hit double-play ball – is the stuff of Orioles “closers” of the past (other than 2012). Leaving the guilty nameless, these were guys who would be better called “reopeners” than “closers.” So far he has gotten six saves in seven attempts, but these numbers are not encouraging … 3.86 ERA with a WHIP of 1.571 and average against of .357 … just sayin.’
Once again the Baltimore Orioles will try to break above .500 on the season, entering Thursday night’s final series game in Toronto with a 10-10 record. They will have to do it against Drew Hutchinson who shut out the Orioles two weeks ago on four hits over six innings. This will be only his 16th start in his MLB career. His record is 1-1 for this season and 6-4 over his time in the majors.
Budd Norris will look to bring a consistent performance that will take him deep into the game. After a bad first start against the Tigers, Norris did pitch seven shutout innings against the Blue Jays on April 12th. He also made it through 6.1 innings on the 19th against the Red Sox. Here are his brief career numbers against Toronto …
Norris has faced several of the Jays’ hitters more than might be expected. Colby Rasmus in 4-for-25 with two doubles and a homer. Jose Reyes is 6-for-16 with a double, while Josh Thole is 5-for-13 with a homer. Melky Cabrera is 3-for-7 with a double, while Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion are a combined 1-for-5.
It would be great for the Baltimore Orioles to win this game and conclude the very tough opening 21 games against AL East opponents and the Tigers with an 11-10 record… especially without Manny Machado and with the starters struggling so significantly.