Jordan Lyles was one pitch away from getting out of the fifth inning unscathed. Instead, the full-count curveball left the bat of Toronto Blue Jays star George Springer in a hurry, sailed over the outfield fence and brought the Rogers Centre crowd to its feet, creating the kind of noise few Orioles players have experienced thus far in their careers.
That it was a go-ahead three-run homer had plenty to do with the surge of energy. But the implications attached to this series in Toronto had even more to do with it.
Here they are, the Blue Jays and the Orioles, battling for postseason positioning in mid-September. One team expected to be here; the other far more of a surprise. And the first game of this critical series Friday night went the way of Toronto, 6-3, moving it six games ahead of Baltimore (75-68) in the American League wild-card race.
The Orioles are five games behind the Tampa Bay Rays for the final wild-card spot. However, both the Seattle Mariners and Rays hold a tiebreaker over the Orioles based on their season series, adding more pressure on Baltimore the rest of the way.
“Guys are talented, they’re young,” Lyles said of his team. “I think the excitement in this building brings out the best in a lot of guys. I don’t think there’s too much to be said. I keep saying these guys are talented, and talent prevails at the end of the day.”
On Friday, however, the talent that prevailed was on the Blue Jays’ side. Toronto has won five of the last six meetings between the clubs.
“They’re a good opponent on that side, and I think us coming in, we have some guys immediately saying, ‘Let it go, we’ll get them tomorrow,’” outfielder Cedric Mullins said. “I think that mindset of not giving in to anything or any obstacles will come across as huge.”
Springer’s 422-foot blast was the major blow, ending Lyles’ evening with four runs allowed on five hits through five innings. Lyles had allowed a leadoff single to Matt Chapman and a walk to Raimel Tapia in the fifth before a lineout and strikeout left him on the verge of escaping with Baltimore’s lead intact.
The second and third time through the order, Lyles trusted his curveball more than any other pitch, finishing the game by throwing 26 of them. He noted how his movement was better than usual, with two extra …read more
Source:: The Mercury News