BALTIMORE — As the regular season winds down, the Baltimore Orioles insist they aren’t sneaking glances at the out-of-town scoreboard in right field at Camden Yards to see how the division-leading New York Yankees are doing.
Instead, their focus must be on the field, where every remaining game is nearly a must-win.
It was the first time the Orioles (88-67) have been shut out in 49 games, since a 2-0 loss against the Tampa Bay Rays on Aug. 3.
“[Our players] understand where they’re at and most importantly, they understand how they got here. And they’ll continue with that,” Orioles Manager Buck Showalter said. “One thing I noticed in the past, you’re always going to get everyone’s best shot, and when we had been struggling and we’d go into certain venues where there’s a good emotion in the ballpark, it feeds the other team as well as us. Sometimes, it can work both ways.”
Laffey, a Cumberland, Md., native, induced 11 groundball outs and allowed just one runner to reach second base.
Laffey entered the night having been unable to go more than 42 / 3 innings in any of his previous three starts.
For the game, the Orioles stranded nine base runners and were 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position
That forced the Orioles, who have lost two straight, to await the Yankees’ late game in Minnesota to see if they would fall more than two games out of first place in the American League East for the first time since Sept. 1.
They remained 11 / 2 games behind the Yankees, who lost to Minnesota, 5-4, despite taking an early 3-1 lead.
Left-hander Joe Saunders kept the Orioles in the game despite giving up hits to five of the first eight batters.
Saunders, who allowed 11 hits over 61 / 3 innings, limited the damage. He recorded his fourth quality start in six since the Orioles acquired him in a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 26.
“It’s a battle. I didn’t feel I had my best stuff, but I feel like I kept my team in the game as best I could,” Saunders said. “I think we’ve played like 100 innings the last five days, so bullpen’s pretty burnt up, so I had to go as deep as I could.”
Five hitters into the game, the Orioles trailed 1-0 after Yan Gomes’ two-out single scored Brett Lawrie from second.
But the Orioles got out of the inning when Rajai Davis’s grounder hit Gomes running to second.
Adeiny Hechavarria’s two-out double scored another run in the fourth, and the Jays scored two more runs charged to Saunders in the seventh.
J.P. Arencibia led off the inning with a single and Anthony Gose reached on Manny Machado’s fielding error. Two batters later, Colby Rasmus’s one-out single scored Arencibia and chased Saunders from the game.
Gose scored on Edwin Encarnacion’s single to right, but right fielder Chris Davis threw out Rasmus at third.
The Orioles had runners at first and second with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning after Davis’s double down the right-field line and a walk to Machado.
But University of Maryland product Brett Cecil struck out pinch hitter Jim Thome on three pitches and pinch hitter Ryan Flaherty grounded out to first to end the inning.
Despite their offensive struggles, the Orioles loaded the bases and brought the tying run to the plate with two outs in the ninth against Jays closer Casey Janssen.
Flaherty flew out to center field on the first pitch.
“Right now, winning is the only thing that’s going to help us,” said Orioles catcher Matt Wieters. “We know we’re going to need to win some games to be able to get in, so we’re just going to keep trying to win as many as we can.”
Dylan Bundy made his second appearance for the Orioles and the first at home.
He worked a scoreless ninth despite allowing a hit and a walk.
L.J. Hoes made his major league debut as a pinch-runner in the bottom of the ninth.
— Baltimore Sun