The Baltimore Orioles dreaded this doubleheader ever since it became part of their schedule late last month.
Beating the same team twice on the same day is not an easy task, even if the opposition is a last-place club in the midst of a losing streak. And so, after Toronto earned a split with a 9-5 win on Monday night, the Orioles shrugged their shoulders and looked ahead to another day of chasing the New York Yankees in the AL East.
“Very hard to sweep a doubleheader in the major leagues,” Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. “It wasn’t from a lack of effort. That’s why when you get a rainout, you try to play because you know the challenge ahead of you somewhere down the line. The Blue Jays have a lot of pride.”
J.P. Arencibia broke open a tight game with a seventh-inning grand slam, leaving the Orioles 1.5 games out of first place in the division.
In the opener, Adam Jones went four-for-four with a homer and two RBIs to lead Baltimore to a 4-1 victory, but the Orioles lost a half-game in the standings to the Yankees, who won 6-3 in Minnesota.
The doubleheader came into being after the teams endured a rainout on Aug. 26.
“You never want to play games like this late in the season, but at the same time, if you can win both of them you help yourself out. Obviously we weren’t able to do that,” Baltimore right fielder Chris Davis said.
The Orioles fell behind 4-0 in the nightcap and missed several bases-loaded chances to take the lead, before Arencibia connected off Jake Arrieta to give Toronto a 9-4 cushion.
“I think anytime you strand guys on base, you know it’s a missed opportunity,” Davis said.
Edwin Encarnacion hit his 41st home run for the Blue Jays, who snapped a seven-game skid. Arencibia, who came into the game mired in a two-for-36 slump, finished with three hits and five RBIs.
Toronto long ago fell out of playoff contention, but the Jays were reminded how fun it is while performing before an enthusiastic crowd of 31,015.
“It’s pretty impressive the atmosphere they have here,” Arencibia said. “It’s a lot of fun to play in that kind of atmosphere.”
Ricky Romero (9-14) allowed four runs, eight hits, four walks and a homer in five-plus innings, but a strong performance by the Toronto bullpen enabled the left-hander to end a 13-game losing streak over 15 starts since June 22.
“Good for him and good for us,” Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. “We needed a win and it’s been a long time since Ricky’s had a W.”
Encarnacion put the Blue Jays up 2-0 against Taiwan’s Chen Wei-yin (12-10) with a two-run drive in the first inning. In the second, Arencibia hit a sacrifice fly and Anthony Gose added an RBI single.
Robert Andino singled in two runs in the bottom half, but Baltimore left the bases loaded. Nate McLouth hit an opposite-field drive to left in the fifth to get Baltimore to 4-3, but the Orioles again left the bases full.
After Moises Sierra homered for Toronto in the sixth, the Orioles loaded the bases with no outs in their half, bringing many in the crowd to their feet. Brad Lincoln replaced Romero and gave up a first-pitch RBI single to J.J. Hardy before striking out Jones. Davis followed with a fly ball to Gose in left field and Taylor Teagarden was thrown out at the plate after tagging up.
Baltimore also loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth, but scored only once on a double-play grounder.