The Blue Jays took their first step towards knocking the Baltimore Orioles off their perch atop the AL East, beating the Orioles in the series opener 4-3.
Marcus Stroman turned in another strong performance Tuesday night in Baltimore, throwing 7 complete innings against the Orioles. Save for two home runs surrendered, the young right hander turned in another fine performance finishing with a line of 6 hits and 3 earned runs allowed, with 3 strikeouts against 1 walk over 101 pitches. For the third time in four starts, Stroman was able to complete 7 innings, setting the tone early on atop the Jays’ rotation.
The Blue Jays opened the scoring in the 2nd inning by loading the bases for Ryan Goins, who had an RBI groundout. In the third inning the Jays made it 3-0 against starter Mike Wright. Michael Saunders and Jose Bautista both reached base before scoring on a Troy Tulowitzki double to left field. Tulowitzki came into the game batting just .148 on the young season, but delivered a key hit in addition to providing his typical gold glove calibre defence.
Meanwhile, Stroman gave up an early solo shot to Manny Machado in the third, and escaped a couple early jams, but was in control for most of the contest. The former Duke standout got into cruise control in the middle innings, needing only 7 pitches to complete the 5th, and just 9 more to finish the 6th.
He later left a changeup a little up and over the plate and Matt Wieters punished one of his few mistakes for a controversial two run home run to right field. The ball appeared as though it may have hit the top of the metal grating on the wall, but officials upheld the call on the field after review.
In the 7th the Blue Jays added a crucial 4th run on a Jose Bautista double to left field. Saunders scored on the play after left fielder Joey Rickard dove and missed the line drive. The run turned out to be the difference maker in the game
In the 8th inning, Brett Cecil came on to relieve Stroman and retired Rickard and Chris Davis around allowing a double to Machado, and walking former Blue Jays Nolan Reimold. Manager John Gibbons elected to bring in closer Roberto Osuna with two outs in the eighth, and the move paid off with Osuna retiring Mark Trumbo on a flyout to centre.
Osuna wrapped up the 9th retiring the first three hitters in order, moving the club up to 8-7, and over .500 for the first time since week one of the season.