Blue Jays show pop, but fall to O’s in slugfest

Toronto Blue Jayslg

April 23, 2014, TORONTO (ISN) – Dustin McGowan was staked to an early five-run lead, but couldn’t find a way to shut down the Orioles’ offense, and the Blue Jays went on to a 10-8 loss on Wednesday night at Rogers Centre.

McGowan received some early breathing room when Toronto posted six runs in the second inning vs. right-hander Chris Tillman. Brett Lawrie had a three-run homer, while Jose Reyes added a two-run shot of his own as the Blue Jays sent 11 batters to the plate.

The quick start looked like it would allow Toronto to cruise the rest of the way, but little by little the Orioles began chipping away at McGowan. Baltimore’s comeback officially started with two runs in the third inning on an RBI single by Nick Markakis and a solo home run by Nelson Cruz.

McGowan bounced back with a three-up, three-down fourth inning, but his outing unraveled in the fifth. Despite facing the bottom of Baltimore’s order, McGowan loaded the bases with nobody out and forced manager John Gibbons to make a move for the bullpen. It marked the third time in four starts that McGowan was unable to record an out in the fifth inning as he continues to falter when his pitch count becomes elevated.

Right-hander Todd Redmond entered and promptly surrendered a grand slam to Cruz. It was the seventh career grand slam and the 11th multi-homer game of Cruz’s career. Before the inning came to an end, Redmond also allowed an RBI double to Matt Wieters and a sacrifice fly to J.J. Hardy as the Orioles took a 9-6 lead.

McGowan’s job security in the starting rotation will likely come into question following his latest outing. He has allowed 13 runs in 17 innings (6.88 ERA) this season and appears to be having an increasing amount of difficulty keeping the ball down in the zone as his outings progress. Toronto wanted to remain patient with him at the start of the season as his pitch limit was increased, but so far they have seen very few encouraging signs that he can get deep into games.

Toronto chipped away at the Orioles’ lead with a solo home run by second baseman Ryan Goins in the sixth and a pinch-hit RBI single by Josh Thole in the seventh. Reyes followed the Thole at-bat, but struck out with a pair of runners on as the Blue Jays came up short in their attempt to get back into the game.

The Blue Jays loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning vs. Orioles closerTommy Hunter. The light-hitting Jonathan Diaz came to the plate and Gibbons wasn’t able to call upon a pinch-hitter because his three-man bench had already been used. Diaz then grounded into a double play to end the game.

The Blue Jays will have an opportunity to bounce back on Thursday night in the series finale. Toronto is looking to win a series for the fourth time in its past five opportunities.

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