BALTIMORE – Buck Showalter knows how important it is to extend his starting pitchers. He won’t sacrifice games, but in order for the Orioles to contend, six innings is the absolute minimum he can consistently accept.
Mike Wright gave him six on Tuesday night, allowing three runs, but the Orioles still lost their fourth in five games to the Toronto Blue Jays 4-3 before 16,783 at Oriole Park.
Wright, who allowed the three runs in the first three innings, rewarded Showalter with a perfect sixth.
“That was, I wouldn’t say a tough call. We’re trying to win baseball games and we’re trying to develop pitchers, so it was a little bit of both,” Showalter said.
“I’m not looking at for it from appreciation, I’m looking for it trying to make the Baltimore Orioles better and Mike’s got a chance to contribute for us as a starter and I wanted him to kind of cross over that threshold. And hopefully that helps him mentally and emotionally as we go forward.”
Wright gave up three runs on six hits in six innings. Toronto’s Marcus Stroman also allowed three runs on six hits, but he went seven.
“That's very important. You always want a quality start. I would like to go seven, just like Stroman did. The deeper into the game you can go, the better, so going six is definitely a step in the right direction,” Wright said.
After the Orioles (8-4) began the year with seven straight wins, they’ve lost four of five and suffered their first defeat at home.
Manny Machado and Matt Wieters accounted for the Orioles’ runs with a solo shot in the fourth and a two-run homer in the seventh, but Toronto (8-7) scored on Tyler Wilson in the top of the seventh to take a 4-1 lead.
“The tack-on run usually bites you against a good team like that of course,” Showalter said.
Wright (1-1) started strongly and finished well, too. His only 1-2-3 innings were the first and sixth.
In between, he allowed Toronto to score in the second after he loaded the bases on a single and two walks. Chris Davis deftly fielded Ryan Goins’ grounder to first which allowed Edwin Encarnacion to score.
Troy Tulowitzki’s two-run double in the third gave the Blue Jays a 3-0 lead, and it could have been worse, but Mark Trumbo’s throw from right nabbed Tulowitzki as he tried to score on Justin Smoak’s single.
Machado’s fourth inning home run cut the lead to 3-1. His home run, his fifth of the season, gave him a 12-game hitting streak. He’s the only major leaguer to hit in all of his team’s games this season.
“We’re doing well. We’re playing good baseball. I’m swinging the bat well and playing good defense, and the team is as well,” Machado said.
After the homer, the Orioles loaded the bases with two outs, but J.J. Hardy popped out to second.
Stroman (3-0) pitched perfect fifth and sixth innings, and after Adam Jones grounded to short to end the sixth, he left the game.
There were a few anxious moments before it was announced that Jones who missed time with a rib cage injury, had a stomach virus.
“He was battling it a little bit right after batting practice. After he threw up he seemed to be feeling a lot better and had cleared up and then got a little worse after, he ran the bases a lot and had to get him out of there. They took him over to check him a little further and make sure it’s not something else. We’ll see,” Showalter said.
Matt Wieters hit a two-run home run that barely cleared the fence in right field in the seventh. It was Wieters’ first of the season, and cut Toronto’s lead to 4-3.
Wieters liked how Wright worked with him.
“I just wanted him to pitch and not go up there and be a thrower. I think that’s the biggest thing with him is he’s going to learn more and more how to pitch at this level. Everyone knows the kind of arm he has, the kind of stuff he has. But he has to be able to pitch when he doesn’t have his best stuff,” Wieters said.
NOTES: The Orioles have hit 25 home runs in 12 games. … Brian Matusz pitched four shutout innings for Frederick, allowing one hit and striking out nine. “That's what we were looking for. So, he'll get a couple days off and see where we are,” Showalter said. … R.A. Dickey (1-2. 6.75) faces Ubaldo Jimenez (1-1, 3.75) on Wednesday night. … Pitching coach Dave Wallace will miss this series to take care of a family matter. Ramon Martinez fills in.
MORE ORIOLES: Gausman gets one more rehab start Wednesday