Joe Saunders retired the first 17 Toronto Blue Jays he faced Monday afternoon at Rogers Center, as he bounced back from an atrocious Orioles debut and pitched his new team to a 4-0 win. The veteran lefty had every pitch working, as he kept the Jays from making solid contact all day.
Saunders (W, 1-1/7-11) received an early boost from the offense. Manny Machado led off the second inning with a shot down the right field line. Jays right fielder Moises Sierra came a long way after the ball, then went into a slide and missed it. Machado wound up at third on a play that was ruled a three-base error by Sierra, but which could have very easily gone down as a triple. On the very next pitch, Nate McLouth dropped a safety squeeze towards first. Jays starter J. A. Happ (L, 3-2/10-11) made a nice pick up, but went for the sure out at first despite Machado getting a late break from third, and the Orioles were up 1-0.
Saunders’ new teammates also flashed a little leather behind him. In the bottom of the second, Yunel Escobar tried to bunt his way in. Machado raced in at third, barehanded the ball, and fired across his body. At first, Mark Reynolds made the diving stretch he’s becoming famous for, casting balance aside and lunging after the ball, with the tip of his big toe still in contact with the bag. This grab was even more difficult that most, though, in that it was his left foot on the bag, AND the throw actually took him towards the home plate side of first.
1-0 it remained until the O’s fifth. Robert Andino led off with a single. He scored on a double down the left field line from Nick Markakis. JJ Hardy followed with a double to left of his own, and the O’s were up 3-0.
Into the Jays sixth. Saunders retired Sierra and Jeff Mathis, and remained perfect in the game. But rookie Adeiny Hechavarria broke up the bid with a hump back liner that landed in between Andino at second and Jones in center. Pitching from the stretch for the first time all day, Saunders walked Rajai Davis, but came back to strikeout Colby Rasmus.
Another RBI hit from Hardy in the eighth gave the Orioles a 4-0 lead, and the first of the three-game series in Toronto.
Zach Britton (4-1, 4.80) takes the hill for the O’s Tuesday night, vs. Carlos Villanueva (7-4, 3.10). First pitch is 7:05.
- This was as dominant as any Orioles’ starter has looked all year. Saunders’ line: 6.1IP, 0R, 3H, 2BB, 2K.
- The O’s bullpen was very good on this day: 2.2IP, 0R, 0H, 0BB, 4K.
- Hardy: 2/5, 1 double, 2RBI.
- Reynolds: 0/4, 3K, 7LOB. He did walk once, and made a couple of very good plays.