BALTIMORE (AP) — Baltimore second baseman Jonathan Schoop vowed his team is not getting frustrated about a string of tough losses over the past month.
However, he admitted the Orioles are going to have to play better to keep their postseason hopes alive.
Jose Bautista homered on the game’s first pitch and Russell Martin went deep four batters later in support of Aaron Sanchez, leading the Blue Jays to a 5-3 victory over the Orioles on Wednesday night.
Toronto took two of the three games in the pivotal American League East series. The fading Orioles are four games behind the first-place Blue Jays and are tied with Detroit for the second wild card spot.
“It’s tough because we’re chasing them, and they take two out of three,” said Schoop, who had three hits, including his 21st homer. “But we’ve just got to learn from it, and get a good off day tomorrow and come back stronger than we were. We’ve just got to compete and play hard and try to win as many games as we can.”
Sanchez (13-2) was recalled from Class-A Dunedin to make the start. He spent 10 days in the minors to limit his innings and he took advantage of the extra rest. Sanchez allowed an unearned run and five hits with two strikeouts over six innings and a season-high 112 pitches.
Michael Saunders hit his 23rd homer, a solo shot in the eighth that made it 5-1. Schoop cut the margin to 5-3 with his two-run homer in the ninth off Roberto Osuna.
“It’s never easy when you play these guys,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “This time of year, I mean this is a team we’re locked in it with. It’s always big to beat them.”
The game was delayed for about 15 minutes when home plate umpire Jerry Layne was hit in the mask on a pitch by Sanchez. Layne had to leave and was replaced by second base umpire Alan Porter.
After Bautista drilled Yovani Gallardo’s first pitch over the wall in center field, Martin followed with a two-run shot. The Orioles pulled within 3-1 in the fifth when third baseman Josh Donaldson couldn’t handle a sharp grounder by Manny Machado.
“Going into the series, we knew it was going to be big, it was going to be important,” Gallardo said. “They’re in the lead for the division. That is our ultimate goal, to be in that spot. We’ve got a whole month ahead of us.”
After allowing the two homers, Gallardo (4-7) settled down and retired the final 10 batters he faced. He allowed three runs and five hits with three strikeouts over six innings.
“He pitched well I thought for the most part,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “He gave us a chance to win. Really, he got better as the game went on.”
A double by Devon Travis off Mychal Givens in the seventh increased the lead to 4-1.
WALK IN THE PARK
Orioles first baseman Chris Davis, who has 32 homers, went 0 for 1 with three walks. It was the third game this season he walked three or more times.
Blue Jays: RHP Bo Schultz was optioned to Buffalo to make room for Sanchez.
Orioles: OF Drew Stubbs was claimed off release waivers from Texas. To make room, Baltimore cut Kyle Lobstein just two hours after getting the left-handed pitcher in a trade with Pittsburgh. … The Orioles acquired another outfielder, Michael Bourn, from the Diamondbacks for minor league outfielder Jason Heinrich.
Blue Jays: INF Darwin Barney was placed on the Family Medical Emergency List. Gibbons did not disclose further details. INF Ryan Goins was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo.
Orioles: RHP Darren O’Day (right shoulder rotator cuff strain) is “progressing well” but there is still no timetable for his return to the bullpen, Showalter said.
Blue Jays: Gibbons has not named a starter for the game Friday in Tampa Bay.
Orioles: Dylan Bundy (7-5. 3.71 ERA) pitches the series opener against the New York Yankees on Friday in another battle of playoff contenders. Bundy has struggled in three appearances against New York this season, going 0-1 with 9.39 ERA over three appearances (8 runs in 7 2/3 innings).