BALTIMORE – If you listened to Buck Showalter closely, you might have thought the Orioles lost Thursday night’s game. His star catcher, who rarely argues, was ejected from the game, his team left 13 runners on base, and still they won.
Not only did they win, but they took two of three against the Toronto Blue Jays, a team that captured the AL East a year after the Orioles did.
All Thursday night the Orioles complained about home plate umpire Dan Bellino’s strike zone, and in the fifth inning, Matt Wieters was ejected for the second time in his career.
The Orioles rallied in the eighth and pulled out a 3-2 win over the Blue Jays before 17,644 at Oriole Park.
“That was a challenge. It was a frustrating game to manage,” Showalter said. “A tough night. A frustrating game for me.”
With the game tied at 2, Joey Rickard singled with one out off Brett Cecil (0-3). He advanced to second on Russell Martin’s passed ball and came home when Manny Machado plopped a double down the right field line.
Darren O’Day (1-0) pitched a scoreless eighth, walking Jose Bautista, but striking out the side for the win.
Zach Britton pitched the ninth for his fourth save, and the Orioles (10-4) took two of three from Toronto (8-9).
“We all know how this division's going to be. You know how good that team is, and every team in this division's going to be good,” Machado said.
Before the winning eighth inning, the biggest moment came when Wieters, was ejected by Bellino for arguing about a checked swing in the fifth inning and replaced by Caleb Joseph.
“I don’t like to get them, but I said some things I probably shouldn’t have. He just hit a nerve a little bit, especially the checked swing because they do have the option to get help. It was just, I thought it was a little bit inconsistent behind the plate for most of the night,” Wieters said.
“It’s just hard when you know your pitchers out there battling to be able to try and at least know where to go to get a strike called and kind of hit or miss a little bit.”
The first inning looked to be the precursor of an evening full of runs, but that turned out not to be the case.
Michael Saunders led off with a single off Chris Tillman. Josh Donaldson’s double scored Saunders. With first and second and one out, Rickard made a leaping catch in front of the left field wall to snatch Troy Tulowitzki’s fly ball and save perhaps two runs.
But, Tillman loaded the bases when he hit Martin, and walked Justin Smoak to force in a second run.
The 21-minute inning ended on Tillman’s 38th pitch, an infield out by Kevin Pillar.
The Orioles also roughed up Toronto starter Marco Estrada in the first. Rickard singled, and stole second. He’s reached base in all 14 games of his major league career and had consecutive three-hit nights.
Rickard scored on Machado’s single. Machado has hit in 14 straight games, equaling the longest in his career. Adam Jones doubled, and Chris Davis walked to load the bases.
Mark Trumbo took a disputed called third strike, and Wieters grounded into a double play to end the first.
“I thought that was a big inning for us until we got Ball 4 called a strike,” Showalter said.
Tillman settled in, allowing only two more hits, and ending his night with a quality start: two runs on four hits in six innings.
“I think I just continued to make my pitches. Didn’t go our way in the first inning, but that’s what happens when you’re not throwing strikes,” Tillman said.
The Orioles had repeated scoring opportunities, and though they objected to Bellino’s strike zone and flailed away, finally tied the score in the seventh against switch-pitcher Pat Venditte.
Davis walked to lead off the seventh, Trumbo was hit by a pitch and Joseph singled to load the bases. Hardy’s sacrifice fly to center tied the score at 2.
NOTES: Dylan Bundy struck out Pillar for the first strikeout of his career in the seventh inning. “It’s been four years to get one strikeout in the majors. It’s been a while. But it was nice to get that out of the way. I’ve actually thought about it the last two outings, I remembered I don’t have a strikeout but I’ve got a couple walks,” Bundy said. … Davis walked a career high four times. … Yovani Gallardo (1-0, 5.63) face Chris Young (0-3, 7.90) on Friday night as the Orioles begin a three-game series in Kansas City. … The Orioles are 3-0 when they don’t hit a home run.
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