05/02/09 12:34 AM ET
O's plan vs. Doc only works halfway
Baltimore tags Toronto ace early, but not enough for win
By Larry Millson / Special to MLB.com
And when Nick Markakis hit his third home run of the season three batters into the game before 20,202 at Rogers Centre, the 23rd and 24th RBIs of the season by the right fielder had given the Orioles a two-run lead. But they didn't score against him again until the eighth inning, when they got two more, one unearned.
Meanwhile, Orioles left-handed starter Mark Hendrickson, a former Blue Jay, could not hold the lead in the fourth inning. Toronto scored four runs on its way to an 8-4 victory that gave Halladay a 5-1 record and a nine-game winning string against Baltimore, dating back to June 23, 2005.
Halladay allowed 10 hits, one walk and four runs (three earned) over his eight innings. Hendrickson (1-4) allowed nine hits, two walks and four runs in five-plus innings, and he lamented the damage caused by a couple of pitches he left up in the fourth inning of start in which he had a good curveball working.
The other part of the equation against a pitcher of Halladay's ability is that if you do score early, it's imperative to shut down his hitting support, because he's not likely to give up much more.
"The game plan against him has always been the same," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said of Halladay. "When you get opportunities to score, you've got to do it early, and we did.
"Then we've got to do our part on the other side of the coin and shut the other team down. He will just get stronger as the game goes on and that's what he does. He's got a track record of doing that, and he's got a history of doing very well against the Orioles."
Hendrickson held the Blue Jays to two hits and no walks until the fourth, when the game changed. Toronto scored four runs on five hits to take a 4-2 lead.
Former Oriole Kevin Millar's two-run double gave the Jays the lead. The first run scored on a Scott Rolen squib that first baseman Aubrey Huff couldn't control as Alex Rios scored from third base. The fourth run scored on Rod Barajas' single. The four runs were all that Hendrickson allowed, as he lasted one batter into the sixth and left the game when he allowed his ninth hit of the game on his 100th pitch.
"Early, he had a very good curveball going, and the location of his fastball, he was cutting it in, running it in on hitters," Trembley said. "But then after the third inning, one time around the lineup, they tried to draw the counts out. He had to work really hard to get out of the fourth, and he had to work real hard in the fifth. I figure, it's just location of pitches, it's not what he's throwing."
Hendrickson said he felt as good as he has all season.
"The curveball was really good tonight," Hendrickson said. "In the fourth inning for a couple of hitters, I kind of got away from it a little bit and left a couple of pitches up. In a game of this magnitude, going against Roy, small mistakes get magnified, and he was on top of his game for most of the time, so give him all the credit."
Adam Lind hit his fifth homer of the season with one out in the seventh against reliever Dennis Sarfate. Barajas doubled home Rolen, who walked following Lind's home run and stole second. Both benches were warned after Jose Bautista was hit by a pitch after the double. After one more pitch to Marco Scutaro, Sarfate left the game accompanied by a trainer with numbness in his right middle finger, giving Baltimore something else to be concerned about.
"I felt a sensation in the middle finger, and it was getting cold," Sarfate said. "And there was numbness. It happened a few times today. It's the first time I've ever felt anything like this. I told the trainers it would come and go.
"So it would come back and I went into the game, and it felt fine. And after I came out for that second inning after the first batter, it started coming back around and I just tried to shake it off and try to get some blood flow down into the finger, but nothing seemed to work.
"The best thing was to come out and not do anything else. It kind of scared me. You don't know what to do or what to expect. Hopefully, it's nothing. The doctors seem to be pretty positive about it. It could go away. It could have been just a little spasm I was feeling."
The Orioles scored twice in the eighth on three hits, a walk and a passed ball. Huff drove in one run with a single, and Melvin Mora, starting for the first time since a hamstring injury put him on the disabled list, drove in the other run with a groundout. The Blue Jays answered with two runs in the bottom of the eighth against Chris Ray.
Larry Millson is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.