O's valiant comeback falls short in loss
Trailing by seven, offense puts together six-run sixth inning
TORONTO -- Sometimes, it's not enough to keep the ball in the infield. Baltimore starter Garrett Olson learned that the hard way Wednesday night, when several ground balls played a key role in a 9-7 loss to Toronto. The Blue Jays scored seven times in the fourth inning, but five of those runs crossed the plate without the ball leaving the infield.
"We couldn't get the third out," said Baltimore manager Dave Trembley. "That's really all I could say about it."
The trouble all started with one out and the bases loaded, and Olson walked Gregg Zaun to send home the game-tying run. From there, Melvin Mora endured a tough sequence. The third baseman made a wide throw to first base that pushed one run home and two batters later, he deflected a ball off his glove and behind him, allowing two more runs to score.
Both plays came with two outs, but the second one carried a higher level of difficulty. Mora had to range far to his left to get his glove on the ball and would've had to make a quick reaction play to get the runner at second base. And if he hadn't been able to glove the ball, it surely would've gotten through the infield and allowed the second run to score anyway.
When asked if Mora should've made the plays, Trembley said only, "I think you saw the same thing I did."
"I just missed it," said Mora, a two-time All-Star. "I missed it and they were able to score two more runs after that. I don't know if I think I should've made it, but if they hit it to you, you should make it. You can't give a chance to anybody for the next hit. It doesn't matter if it's hard, soft or whatever. You have to make the play and that's why they pay us."
David Eckstein also doubled up the third-base line to score two runs, and second baseman Brian Roberts trapped a ball in the infield, but couldn't keep it close enough to stop a run from scoring from second. Olson (6-4) was charged with all seven earned runs, and Toronto (44-47) needed just one extra-base hit to net its highest-scoring inning of the year.
"You have got to find a way to get the third out," Trembley said. "And it didn't happen."
"You try to get your ground balls," added Olson. "And unfortunately, we weren't able to seal the deal on that, but all you can do is keep doing that and hopefully it goes your way next time.
"I think I also shot myself in the foot earlier in the inning by hitting [Scott] Rolen in the foot and then walking Zaun to get the first run in. Had I not done that, maybe [we'd] get out of the inning a little earlier than that."
Baltimore (44-45) didn't go away, though, pulling within one run with a high scoring rally in the sixth. Mora and catcher Ramon Hernandez both hit run-scoring singles in that inning, and Adam Jones made it 8-7 with a three-run home run. Toronto went to the bullpen at that point, but despite his rough outing, A.J. Burnett (9-8) still went home with the win.
"We did a great job," said right fielder Nick Markakis, who homered in the ninth inning. "But we just fell one run short. No matter who is on the mound, we have to take that approach: Have good at-bats and play nine innings."
The Orioles almost scored a run in the seventh inning that would've made things a little more interesting. Designated hitter Aubrey Huff doubled with one out and tried to score on a Luke Scott single -- a hit that broke an 0-for-13 skid -- but center fielder Alex Rios made a perfect throw to the plate and catcher Rod Barajas was credited with making the tag.
Huff didn't slide on the play, and both he and his manager claimed that the catcher missed the tag.
"I thought he was safe," Trembley said. "And [home-plate umpire] Jim Wolf knows he was safe, but he got called out because he doesn't slide. But that's baseball. You pay for a mental mistake there."
"I had a good jump," said Huff of the play at the plate. "Luke hit it hard. Rios has a good arm. ... and I saw [Barajas] backing up on the plate. As he caught it, he came down low anticipating a slide.
"I couldn't slide or I would've slid right into his glove, and I couldn't run him over [because] he was too low. So I jumped over him, and it worked out. I don't know what the replay showed, but I felt like I wasn't even touched."
The Orioles have now lost two straight games and fell one game under .500 for the first time since June 12. Olson, meanwhile, worked his second-shortest start of the year and allowed his highest number (seven) of earned runs. The southpaw saw his ERA rise to 6.81 on the road, which stands more than 2 1/2 runs higher than his mark at home (4.28).
"I felt like I started pretty strong," said Olson, who had a 5-1 record at one point. "Maybe I've got on to a rough patch, but I'm definitely learning out there. I'm trying to make better pitches every day and just get ready for the next half."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.