After losses pile up vs. Orioles, time is now for Blue Jays to enter win mode

After losses pile up vs. Orioles, time is now for Blue Jays to enter win mode

BALTIMORE — To say that the Orioles outplayed the Blue Jays in their head-to-head matchups this summer would be putting it mildly. Not only did Baltimore win 10 of the 13 games the teams played, the Orioles outscored the Blue Jays by a margin of 75-40, leaving no doubt as to which team’s playing better baseball.

Those 13 games go a long way toward explaining why Baltimore’s 9.5 games ahead of Toronto in the AL East – why Baltimore’s heading toward a first-round playoff bye and the Blue Jays fight for their lives in the wild card race. They also signal a broader power shift within the division as this Orioles team isn’t going anywhere. In fact with 19-year-old super prospect Jackson Holliday approaching quickly, they may soon get better.

Not great, then, if you’re the Toronto Blue Jays. In fact the best thing you can say about the 13 games between these two teams is that they’re over. A 5-3 Baltimore win following a one hour, 10 minute rain delay wrapped up the season series at Camden Yards Thursday.

A late flight home is next for the Blue Jays, after which their schedule finally eases. Frustrating though these Orioles games were, this isn’t the time to panic. Remember, the Blue Jays are very much in contention even after losing a half game in the standings to the idle Mariners, who now lead Toronto by 1.5 games in the wild card race. Houston also lost Thursday, meaning they’re tied with Seattle, 1.5 games ahead of the Blue Jays.

Starting Friday, the Blue Jays face five consecutive non-contenders in what will be their best chance to gain real ground against the AL West teams they’re chasing. After the Guardians and Nationals visit Toronto, the Blue Jays head West to face the Rockies and Athletics before returning home for three against the Royals.

It’s a great opportunity for the Blue Jays to gain ground, but that’s easier said than done at a time that the team’s offence isn’t clicking. Granted, Jays off-season target Kyle Gibson pitched well, but it was still another quiet night at the plate for the Blue Jays, who combined for just six hits a day after being shut out.

A Brandon Belt home run was the lone offensive highlight for the visitors while the home team managed two critical home runs against Jays starter Jose Berrios. With one out in the fourth inning, Anthony Santander demolished a two-run homer onto Eutaw Street beyond the right field wall, connecting for his third long ball in two days.

The next inning it was Cedric Mullins who connected for a two-run shot on the 10th pitch of his at-bat, a 97 m.p.h. fastball in the upper part of the zone. Berrios still managed to cover six innings, but by the time he left the game Baltimore had a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

It added up to a frustrating night for the Blue Jays one day after Kevin Gausman spoke about the importance of playing with a sense of urgency. And while there’s no doubt the Blue Jays are preparing and trying, we’re now at the point in the season where results matter more than process.

A 3-10 record against Baltimore speaks volumes. And while there’s no doubt opportunity still exists for the Blue Jays, they can’t afford to waste this upcoming stretch against sub-.500 teams. 

It may be August, but the division is out of hand and the Blue Jays are looking up at multiple teams in wild card race. It’s time to win or go home.

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