BALTIMORE — After spending the majority of the season’s first two months away from Camden Yards, the Baltimore Orioles’ 10-game homestand was their longest so far this year.
And this weekend’s four-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays provided a valuable opportunity to cut the gap between themselves and the American League East division leaders.
Even though it’s only the middle of June and more than 90 games remain in the season, the series split was an opportunity lost, especially since Toronto came to town having lost four of five games.
Following a 5-2 loss to Toronto on Sunday in front of an announced sellout of 46,469, Baltimore completed the homestand against the Oakland Athletics, the Boston Red Sox and Toronto with a 5-5 record. Now, the Orioles head out on a six-game road trip to face two more AL East rivals — the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees.
Baltimore (35-33) scored three or fewer runs six times this homestand, including the last three games against Toronto, and hit just .217 with runners in scoring position (13-for-60) over the homestand.
Because of the offense’s inconsistency, the Orioles haven’t taken advantage of the team’s revitalized rotation, which had nine quality starts on the homestand.
Chris Tillman gave Baltimore its seventh straight quality start, allowing three runs and eight hits in seven innings. The right-hander has thrown back-to-back quality starts for the first time since his second and third starts of the season.
But Tillman (5-4) allowed the leadoff man on base in four of his first five innings. Three of those leadoff men scored.
The Blue Jays (41-30) jumped on Tillman three batters into the game when Jose Bautista doubled home Jose Reyes, who opened the game with a single.
Edwin Encarnacion led off the fourth with a double and scored two batters later on a single by Dioner Navarro. Toronto went up 3-0 on Melky Cabrera’s sacrifice fly in the fifth.
Toronto starter and winner J.A. Happ (6-3) held the Orioles to one run and seven hits in six innings, striking out six and walking none.
Baltimore had its best opportunity to break through in the third inning, when J.J. Hardy hit a leadoff double and Jonathan Schoop reached on an infield single. But the Orioles couldn’t score as Nick Hundley flied out and Happ struck out Nick Markakis and Manny Machado to end the inning.
The Orioles scored their only run off Happ with two outs in the sixth on Nelson Cruz’s RBI single. Jones added his 11th homer of the season with two outs in the bottom of the eighth.