TORONTO – George Springer’s RBI single helped him avoid setting a new Blue Jays record in futility and Toronto held on for a 4-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday.
Springer had gone 35 at bats without a hit until the single. A 36th would have given him the franchise record for hitless droughts.
The rest of Toronto’s (60-49) offence came from a series of walks, hit by pitches, and an error by the Orioles.
Yusei Kikuchi (9-3) gave up just one run over six innings on six hits, a walk, a three strikeouts as the Blue Jays snapped a three-game skid. Relievers Yimi Garcia, Jordan Hicks and Erik Swanson preserved the win.
Adley Rutschman had an RBI single as Baltimore (66-42) had its three-game win streak end.
Grayson Rodriguez (2-3) struck out six over 5 2/3 innings and was charged three runs on two hits and two walks. Shintaro Fujinami, Cole Irvin
Springer matched the dubious Blue Jays record when he grounded out in the third inning. It was his 35th consecutive at bat without a hit, tying a franchise record shared with Ed Sprague (1994) and Danny Jansen (2022).
He avoided setting a new mark in the fourth inning when his single dropped into shallow field to score Brandon Belt from second. Springer threw his hands in the air upon reaching base, clearly elated to avoid setting the new record, to the delight of the 36,924 at Rogers Centre.
“He’s been through enough in his career to understand that baseball is long and baseball is hard,” said Blue Jays manager John Schneider before the game. “Everyone goes through it here and there.
“You need guys to respond in the right way and he definitely has. It’s just a matter of time for George.”
Rutschman’s fifth-inning single tied the game 1-1. With two outs, he hit it to second baseman Whit Merrifield. The infielder easily gathered up the ball but Belt was too far off first base for the force out and Kikuchi hadn’t run off the mound to back up Belt.
With all that going on, James McCann easily ran home.
A bizarre series of miscues by the Orioles in the sixth inning handed the lead back to the Blue Jays.
Despite getting two outs to start the inning, Rodriguez and Fujinami combined to load the bases with three consecutive walks. Fujinami then plunked Toronto third baseman Matt Chapman in the back to force Belt across home.
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Still struggling with control, Fujinami then hit Jansen in the elbow to push Vladimir Guerrero Jr., across the plate and add another run to the Blue Jays’ lead.
Daulton Varsho broke his bat swinging at a 100 m.p.h. four-seam Fujinami fastball in the next at bat, with his hit going directly to Orioles shortstop Jorge Mateo for what should have been an easy out at any base. But Mateo misplayed the ball, allowing Varsho to reach base on an error and Springer to score.
Recently acquired shortstop Paul DeJong lined out to end the unorthodox rally, but the Blue Jays had established a 4-1 lead.
ROMANO HEALING — Blue Jays closer Jordan Romano of Markham, Ont., played catch before Wednesday’s game, a step toward returning from lower back soreness. Romano was put on the 15-day injured list on Saturday.
ON DECK — Toronto ace Kevin Gausman (8-5) takes the mound in the series finale against Baltimore on Thursday afternoon.
Jack Flaherty (7-6) will make his Orioles debut after being traded to Baltimore from the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 2, 2023.
© 2023 The Canadian Press