The Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays will be seeing a lot of each other in the coming weeks.
On Monday night, Ramon Urias and the upstart Orioles measured up fine.
Urias hit a three-run homer in the first inning, and Anthony Santander, Ryan Mountcastle and Austin Hays also went deep to lift Baltimore to a 7-4 victory over the Blue Jays.
The Orioles, who entered the day two games behind Seattle and Tampa Bay for the final two wild cards in the American League, pulled within three of Toronto for the first wild card. This was the first of 15 meetings down the stretch between the Blue Jays and Orioles.
“I don’t know if it’s a statement. I think that we swung the bats really well,” Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde said. “Nice to see us hit some homers. I feel like it’s been a little bit since we’ve had a game like that offensively.”
Baltimore starter Jordan Lyles (9-8) allowed a third-inning homer by Cavan Biggio, but the Orioles responded in their half of that inning with back-to-back solo shots by Santander and Mountcastle to make it 5-1.
Matt Chapman hit a solo homer for Toronto in the sixth, but Hays answered with one of his own in the bottom half.
The Blue Jays scored twice in the eighth, but Felix Bautista came on and retired Whit Merrifield on a two-out grounder with two on. Mountcastle’s RBI single made it 7-4.
The first two Toronto batters of the ninth reached on an error and a single against Bautista. Then the big right-hander struck out Teoscar Hernandez and got Bo Bichette to bounce into a double play to secure his fifth save.
Yusei Kikuchi (4-6) allowed five runs and six hits in five-plus innings for the Blue Jays.
“Just a tough way to start today, I think, in the first inning,” manager John Schneider said. “With the three-run homer, kind of putting yourself in a hole a little bit.”
Lyles yielded two runs and eight hits in 5⅔ innings.
“We obviously know how good and talented they are – one of the better offences in baseball,” Lyles said. “We know we’re getting into a good stretch of quality opponents. We’ve been playing ball well. Just another series, another Monday night.”
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. singled in the fifth to extend his hitting streak to 19 games, the longest in the AL this year.
Baltimore has won six of seven.
In addition to their double play in the ninth, the Orioles also turned one in the fifth with men on first and third and one out.
“That’s not talked about enough, honestly, is how well we’re playing defence,” Hyde said. “Those double plays did not get turned the last few years. Those are big moments, get some guys out of a jam.”
Blue Jays: RHP Ross Stripling (hip) threw a bullpen session Sunday, and manager John Schneider said his next step is either live batting practice or a rehab start. ... Schneider said LHP Tim Mayza (shoulder) could be back with the team in three weeks.
Orioles: Hays (side) returned to the lineup after missing four games. ... Baltimore recalled RHP Louis Head from Triple-A Norfolk, and INF Rylan Bannon was claimed off waivers by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
All-Star Alek Manoah (12-5) takes the mound for the Blue Jays on Tuesday night against Baltimore’s Kyle Bradish (1-4).