The Orioles looked as if they’d walk out of Buffalo with a come-from-behind win in extra innings over the red hot Blue Jays.
But with two outs in the top of the 10th inning Randal Grichuk hit a two-run home run to lift the Blue Jays to a 5-4 win over the Orioles, as he continued his assault on Oriole pitching.
The loss dropped the Orioles to 14-17 and was the team’s ninth loss in 11 games.
Here are three takeaways from the team’s loss in Buffalo:
Randal Grichuk: Oriole killer
If the Orioles ever throw a pitch to Grichuk ever again, it might be too soon.
Grichuk’s walk-off home run capped a 2-for-5 night with his home run to centerfield, but his dominance over the Orioles started long before Friday night.
In 34 games in his career against the Orioles, Grichuk has hit 17 home runs. In an earlier series in Baltimore between the two teams, he had four home runs in a three-game set. He’s now got 33 extra-base hits in his career against the Orioles.
“You can’t really get too worked up about it,” starter John Means said of facing Grichuk. “I know he was in that first and second situation against me, I just tried to stay relaxed and make pitches. That seems to usually work against pretty much every hitter if you stay locked in and not let who's standing in the box get to you. But he’s good, he’s a great hitter, he’s been around a long time and done well for quite a bit.”
In four games this year against the Orioles, Grichuk is hitting 9-for-19 with five home runs and 13 RBIs.
Despite that, manager Brandon Hyde said there was no consideration to pitching around Grichuk in extra innings.
“There’s a pretty good hitter hitting behind him too (Vladimir Guerrero Jr.),” Hyde said. “I know that Grichuk has been doing damage against us, but I like the matchup, (Cole) Sulser against him. Guerrero is swinging the bat really well against right-handed pitching this year, better than left-handed pitching. Sulser was throwing the ball great, just didn’t execute a pitch.”
One unwritten rule of baseball, that isn’t up for debate, is to never make the third out at third base. It’s unclear what the rule is, however, on making the first and second outs at second base.
In the ninth inning, the Orioles made two outs at second base with the score tied at three. Including the seventh inning, they made three outs at second base in the final four innings trying to swipe an extra bag.
“Well we got thrown out at second base a few times,” Hyde said. “Cedric, that was a straight steal. Earlier in the game, that was a tag on the butt that was pretty unlucky, didn’t get his best jump there. Valaika was a dirt ball read, just trying to be aggressive there in the bottom of the order. Pat just read a dirt ball and didn’t get away from (Blue Jays catcher Danny) Jansen very far.”
Means threw well in four innings against the Blue Jays. He just made two mistakes.
In back-to-back at-bats, he allowed home runs to Guerrero and Teoscar Hernandez as the Blue Jays jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning.
In his four innings, his pitch count reached 74 pitches — the most he’s thrown all year. His final line included four hits, two earned runs (the home runs), a walk and three strikeouts.
“I thought it was improved over his other outings,” Hyde said. “Just gave up those two solo homers. Besides that, I thought he threw the ball really well. The change up kind of came back tonight, that was good to see. The breaking balls are getting better, too. I thought he gave us four pretty good innings, just gave up two solo homers.”
Means has had a tough first half of the season, as he missed his Opening Day start with a tired arm and didn’t debut until July 30. He later missed time after the unfortunate passing of his father.
“I keep making strides, it just hasn’t all come together,” Means said. “I think I really am close. I am starting to get the pitch count up and I think that’ll help kinda everything get back to normal.”
In five starts this season, Means has thrown just 14 ⅔ innings and 275 pitches.
“I’ve got to stop giving up the long-ball,” Means said bluntly.