Mountcastle HRs, booming Orioles beat struggling Jays 7-3
Ryan Mountcastle hit a two-run homer on his return to the lineup, Ryan McKenna had his first game of three hits and an RBI, and the surging Baltimore Orioles improved to 9-4 in August beating the Toronto Blue Jays 7-3 Monday night.
“Really pleased with the way we played tonight,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said.
Baltimore (60-55) reached 60 wins in a season for the first time since going 75-87 in 2017. The Orioles have won just 54 games in the past three full seasons. Baltimore is fourth in the hunt for one of three AL wildcard spots.
Mountcastle missed Sunday’s loss at Tampa Bay after being hit in the left wrist by a pitch on Saturday. He reached base three times Monday, walking in the first and fifth innings and hitting Blue Jays left-hander Yusei Kikuchi in the third.
“It was great to see him back in the lineup today,” Hyde said.
Mountcastle left without speaking to reporters.
Five of Mountcastle’s 16 home runs this season have been against the Blue Jays. He has 12 homers and 25 RBIs against Toronto since the start of 2021. He also hit Kikuchi in his last start a week ago in Baltimore.
“He’s a great player, a great hitter, especially in Toronto,” Orioles right-hander Kyle Bradish said. “Every time he gets up, he can do damage.”
Bradish allowed three runs in 4 2/3 innings and Bryan Baker (4-3) worked 1 1/3 innings for the victory.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit his 24th homer as the struggling Blue Jays (61-53) lost for the eighth time in 11 games.
Toronto outfielder George Springer was taken off the injured list after missing eight games with right elbow pain. The Blue Jays went 2-6 without him.
Springer started and started at the designated hitter on Monday, going 2-for-4 with a walk and scoring once. Springer’s elbow is still too sore to throw, preventing him from playing defense at the moment.
Baltimore didn’t have a base runner until the ninth inning of Sunday’s 4-1 loss at Tampa Bay, when Rays right-hander Drew Rasmussen was perfect in eight. Getting on the board early Monday was a relief for Hyde.
“We had a tough streak in Tampa,” Hyde said. “The last two games have been difficult there and there has been a lot of disappointment. For us, to score straight away in the first set, for me, that was huge.
Kikuchi (4-7) allowed a season-high six runs, three earned and four hits in 3 1/3 innings, losing for the sixth time in 11 starts.
“It’s frustrating for us, but I think overall it was fine,” interim manager John Schneider said of Kikuchi.
Some in the crowd of 26,769 booed when Kikuchi was taken out after McKenna’s RBI double in the fourth.
Anthony Santander hit an RBI single against Kikuchi in the first, and Mountcastle made it 3-0 with his drive into the second deck in left field in the third. Toronto’s Lourdes Gurriel Jr. made it 3-2 with a goal-loaded single in the bottom half.
Defender’s pick of Tyler Nevin made it 4-2 in the fourth and, after McKenna chased Kikuchi, Adley Rutschman hosted right-hander Trevor Richards with a sacrifice fly.
Orioles infielder Terrin Vavra added a sacrificial fly in the fifth, and Guerrero answered in the bottom half.
Santander and southpaw Keegan Akin missed Baltimore’s visit to Toronto in June because they weren’t vaccinated against COVID-19. The Orioles have lost two of three in this series, falling to 28-37. They are 32-18 since.
In late July, the Orioles announced that all players on the 40-man roster had been vaccinated. Baltimore has another series in Toronto, September 16-18.
Bradley Zimmer’s Blue Jays have been tagged to open up a roster spot for Springer.
Orioles infielder Rougned Odor was booed throughout his appearance in the Round of 16, one pitch to first. Odor served a seven-game suspension after hitting Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista during a May 2016 game in Texas.
Schneider said the Blue Jays are close to a minor league deal with free agent utility Yoshi Tsutsugo. Pittsburgh released Tsutsugo, a left-handed hitter, in early August after hitting .171 with two home runs and 19 RBIs in 50 games. Tsutsugo previously played for Tampa Bay and the Dodgers.
Orioles RHP Dean Kremer (4-4, 3.69) starts Tuesday against Blue Jays RHP Alek Manoah (12-5, 2.56). Manoah is 2-0 with a 2.96 ERA in five career starts against Baltimore, with 34 strikeouts in 27 1/3 innings.
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