BALTIMORE (AP) — During a who-can-believe-it season featuring a slew of unexpected victories and a stunning rise to the top of the AL East, the Baltimore Orioles are making believers out of their rivals and adding to their list of accomplishments almost every single day.
Getting home runs from Anthony Santander and Cedric Mullins, Baltimore maintained its two-game lead in the AL East by beating longtime nemesis José Berríos and the Toronto Blue Jays 5-3 Thursday night.
Knowing that second-place Tampa Bay won earlier in the day, the Orioles overcame an early two-run deficit to extend their season-long mastery of Toronto and defeat Berríos (9-9) for the first time. The right-hander came in 10-0 against Baltimore, including 6-0 at Camden Yards, but on this night he allowed five runs and nine hits in six innings.
“We were able to come through today, put up some really good swings against him,” Mullins said.
The Orioles took two of three from the Blue Jays and won the season series 10-3. The victory lifted Baltimore 31 games over .500 at 79-48 for the first time since Sept. 25, 2014.
“This has been so much fun,” starter Kyle Gibson said. “We’re celebrating every single victory.”
Toronto manager John Schneider has seen enough of the Orioles to know their success is anything but a fluke.
“They’re real,” he said. “They can beat you in a lot of different ways. Their lineup’s good, they’ve got speed they can match up. They’re having a good year for a reason.”
Gibson (13-7) gave up three runs and six hits over eight innings, the longest stint by an Orioles starter this year. He went 3-0 against Toronto this season.
Félix Bautista got three straight outs for his 33rd save in 39 chances.
After the start of the game was delayed by rain for 1 hour, 15 minutes, Gibson and Berríos each retired their first nine batters.
Toronto broke the pattern in the fourth, using two hits and a walk to load the bases. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. then drove in a run with a fielder’s choice groundout and George Springer followed with a sacrifice fly.
Adley Rutschman singled to lead off the bottom half before Santander hit a fastball onto Eutaw Street beyond the right-field scoreboard. It was his team-high 24th home run of the season and third in two games.
“He was really tough early,” Schneider said of Berríos. “A couple of multiple-run homers, it’s tough to overcome that.”
Baltimore’s Ryan Mountcastle went 0 for 4, ending his career-high streak of reaching base in 28 straight games.
Toronto 2019 first-round pick Alek Manoah hopes to regain the form that last year enabled him to finish third in the AL Cy Young Award voting. The right-hander went 9-2 as a rookie and 16-7 in 2022, but this season was 3-9 with a 5.87 ERA before being optioned to Triple-A Buffalo two weeks ago. The Blue Jays determined that an injury wasn’t behind Manoah’s ineffectiveness, so now, “he’s getting ready to ramp back up,” Schneider said. “First and foremost, he’s going to get back throwing, get back on the mound, and we’ll go from there.”
Orioles: Reinstated LHP Danny Coulombe (left biceps tendinitis) from the 15-day injured list and optioned LHP Nick Vespi to Triple-A Norfolk. … RH Jack Flaherty, who was scratched from Wednesday’s start with “general soreness,” isn’t ready to rejoin the starting rotation. “We’re still kind of waiting on Jack to see how he’s feeling,” manager Brandon Hyde said.
Blue Jays: Chris Bassitt (12-6, 3.92 ERA) faces Cleveland on Friday night to help Toronto launch a six-game homestand.
Orioles: Cole Irvin (1-3, 4.66) seeks his first win since June 10 on Friday night in the opener of a three-game series against visiting Colorado.