The Baltimore Orioles began their important four game series with the Toronto Blue Jays on the right foot as Kevin Gausman tossed six strong innings and Delmon Young hit a two run home run to help lead the Orioles to a 4-2 victory and move to within 3 1/2 games of first place.
Gausman (2-1) continued to show that he may have just figured out some of the adjustments he had to make in order to be a successful starting pitcher in the big leagues as he produced his second straight quality start since being recalled about a week ago.
On Thursday Night, Gausman did not have the command he had last Saturday, but he was still able to utilize all of his pitches and work his way out of the few tough spots he found himself in. The lone run he would give up on the night came in the fifth inning when Juan Francisco leadoff the inning with a double and later scored on a RBI single from Melky Cabrera.
The run in the fifth would be the only one Gausman would surrender on the night as he tossed six innings, while allowing just one run on five hits, three walks, and three strikeouts and needed 101 pitches, 61 of which were for strikes, to do so. It was another impressive performance and one that will almost certainly earn him the chance to stay with the ball club as he has allowed just two earned runs in his two starts since being recalled and is 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA in those starts.
Brian Matusz tossed a perfect seventh, while Ryan Webb did allow a run in the eighth, but Zach Britton tossed a scoreless ninth for his sixth save of the season.
The offense got started in a hurry for the Orioles as Nick Markakis led off the bottom of the first with a single, which tied him with Brian Roberts for seventh on the all time Orioles career hits list, and was knocked in by the very next batter, Delmon Young, who delivered a two run home run for an early 2-0 lead.
Baltimore got right back to it in the second inning as Manny Machado ended an 0-18 drought with a leadoff double and was moved to third by a Jonathan Schoop sacrifice bunt. Caleb Joseph followed with a line drive RBI single through the drawn in infield to give the Birds a 3-0 lead.
The bottom of the lineup would come through again in the seventh as Schoop led off with a double and was moved to third by a Joseph sacrifice bunt before Markakis delivered a RBI double for a 4-1 lead. The double pushed Markakis into sole possession of seventh place on the Orioles all time career hits list, and is just two behind Ken Singleton for sixth on the list.
It was an important win for the Birds as it moved them to 34-31 and are now just 3 1/2 games behind the Blue Jays for the AL East lead. They will play the second game of the four game series tonight at the Yard as Baltimore will send Ubaldo Jimenez (2-7) to the mound against Toronto's Drew Hutchinson (4-4) with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Don't forget, it's fireworks night at the Yard tonight!
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