Bautista blasts Jays past Orioles, 6-4

Toronto slugger, ex-Oriole hits major league-leading 51st and 52nd homers off Tillman

  • The Orioles' Craig Tatum reacts after striking out in the seventh inning of a 6-4 road loss to the Blue Jays.
The Orioles' Craig Tatum reacts after striking out in… (AP photo )
September 25, 2010|By Dan Connolly, The Baltimore Sun

TORONTO — To understand the primary difference between the last-place Orioles and the fourth-place Toronto Blue Jays, you don't need to look at the win-loss record.

To fully comprehend why the Blue Jays have owned the Orioles recently — they've won 12 straight at Rogers Centre, including 6-4 on Friday night — consider this simple fact.

With leading home run hitter Luke Scott out of the lineup because tough left-hander Brett Cecil was pitching, the Orioles' starting nine Friday had a combined 65 homers. In comparison, Blue Jays middle-of-the-order bashers Jose Bautista and Vernon Wells had 79 homers this season.

By the time Friday's sixth inning was over, Bautista and Wells had gone deep a total of three more times and the Jays (78-75) were headed toward another victory against the Orioles (61-92) despite being out-hit 16-5.

"Certainly, if you look at the hit total, it would have told a different story of the game then what actually happened," Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts said. "Home runs add up quicker than singles."

The Orioles had 12 hits and four doubles, but few were clutch. They left 14 men on base, were 5-for-16 with runners in scoring position and have lost for the fifth time this season when getting at least 15 hits.

In contrast, the Blue Jays needed just three swings to set a franchise record for most homers in a season — 136. In their 16 games against Baltimore this season, the Jays have out-homered the Orioles 29-7.

Jose Bautista, whom the Orioles once had as a Rule 5 draft pick in 2010, has out-homered the Orioles 9-7 in those 16 games while adding 19 RBIs in 60 at-bats. No player has hit more homers against the Orioles in one season in the club's history. Former Oriole Tony Batista (Toronto, 2000) and Frank Howard (Washington Senators, 1968) also hit nine in one season versus Baltimore.

"It feels like he had nine today," Roberts said of Bautista, who leads the majors with 52 home runs.

In reality, Bautista had only two Friday: a solo shot in the first and a two-run homer in the sixth. He also scored in the fourth when Wells hit a two-run blast. All five runs came against Orioles starter Chris Tillman (1-5), who allowed just one other hit, a single, in six innings.

"I think that goes to show, it's not just me. I think it's everybody," said Tillman, who hasn't won a game since his gem in Texas on July 10. "You see it on TV every day. That's what these guys do, they hit home runs. You've just got to go out there and make your pitches, and hopefully you get the result you want."

After issuing six walks in each of his past two starts, Tillman was focused on getting the ball consistently over the plate. He did that, throwing 54 of his 86 pitches for strikes and walking just one.

"My main goal today was definitely to throw strikes, keep the walks down. The one walk was to Bautista, and not many people have been getting him out lately," Tillman said. "I think that's a smart walk there, but a tough walk at the same time, because [Wells] came up, swung at the first pitch and put it in the seats. ... This team lives and dies with the long ball, and it showed tonight."

The pitcher's overall command was better, Orioles manager Buck Showalter said, but Tillman, 22, is still learning what not to do in the American League East.

"There are places to pitch just about everybody, but at this level, they don't miss mistakes," Showalter said. "He was trying to go completely different spot both times [against Bautista], and the ball runs back over the center part of the plate. That is something you are going to pay for most every time here."

Tillman said he feels Friday's outing was the best of his past three, saying: "I'll take this one over the last two any day of the week. I made the pitches I needed to make, just not to the right guy."

The Orioles had plenty of chances against Cecil, the former Maryland standout who allowed a season-high 11 hits but was charged with just three runs (two earned).

Cecil (14-7) allowed a base runner in each of the seven innings he pitched, leaving with one out in the seventh and a runner on second. The Orioles scored twice in that inning, on a double by Nick Markakis and a single by Nolan Reimold, one of his three hits on the night. Markakis and Ty Wigginton also had three hits each, and rookie Brandon Snyder had his first multi-hit game, which included an RBI double in the second, his first big league extra-base hit.

The Orioles closed within one run in the ninth when pinch hitter Corey Patterson doubled against closer Kevin Gregg. With two outs and two on, Gregg threw consecutive balls to pinch hitter Matt Wieters and was pulled for Jesse Carlson.

Carlson got Wieters to fly out to pick up his first save of the season. It was the final lost opportunity in a game filled with them.

"The biggest thing I think for us today was not getting our own runs in," Roberts said. "Not coming up with the two-out hit or driving in the guys that were out there. That was probably our biggest problem."

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

twitter.com/danconnollysun

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