BALTIMORE -- After spending the majority of the season's first two months away from Camden Yards, the Orioles' 10-game homestand was their longest so far this year.
And this week's four-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays provided a valuable opportunity to cut the gap between themselves and the American League East division leaders.
Even though it's only the middle of June and more than 90 games remain in the season, the Orioles' series split with the Blue Jays was an opportunity lost, especially since Toronto came to Camden Yards having lost four of five games.
Following the 5-2 loss to Toronto on Sunday--which came in front of an announced sellout of 46,469 -- the Orioles completed the homestand against the Oakland Athletics, the Boston Red Sox and Toronto with a 5-5 record. Now, the Orioles head out on a six-game road trip to face two more AL East rivals--the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees.
The Orioles (35-33) scored three or fewer runs six times this homestand, including the last three games against Toronto. They hit just .217 with runners in scoring position (13-for-60) over the homestand.
Because of the offense's inconsistency, the Orioles haven't been able to take full advantage of the team's revitalized starting rotation, which recorded nine quality starts on the homestand.
Right-hander Chris Tillman gave the Orioles their seventh straight quality start, allowing three runs and eight hits in seven innings Sunday. The Orioles' Opening Day starter has thrown back-to-back quality starts for the first time since his second and third starts of the season.
But Tillman allowed the leadoff man on base in four of his first five innings. Three of those leadoff men scored.
The Blue Jays (41-30) jumped on Tillman three batters into the game on Jose Bautista's run-scoring double, driving in Jose Reyes, who opened the game with a single.
In the fourth, Edwin Encarnacion opened the inning with a double down the left-field line and scored two batters later on an RBI single by Dioner Navarro. Toronto went up 3-0 on Melky Cabrera's sacrifice fly in the fifth.
Toronto starter J.A. Happ held the Orioles to one run and seven hits in six innings, striking out six batters and walking none.
The Orioles had their best opportunity to break through against Happ in the third inning, when J.J. Hardy hit a leadoff double and Jonathan Schoop reached on an infield single.
But the Orioles couldn't score as No. 9 hitter Nick Hundley flied out to center and Happ struck out Nick Markakis and Manny Machado to end the inning.
The Orioles scored their only run off Happ with two outs in the sixth inning on Nelson Cruz's RBI single to center, which scored Adam Jones--who reached on a two-out double.
Toronto tacked on two runs in the eighth inning off Tommy Hunter, who issued a leadoff walk to Bautista and a ground-rule double to Encarnacion that hopped over the left-field fence.
The Orioles prevented a run when Hardy fielded a groundball by Brett Lawrie and threw home to get Bautista, the lead runner, at the plate--a play that was challenged by Toronto manager John Gibbons and upheld after a 3-minute, 26-second review.
But Navarro's bloop double down the right-field line scored one run, and another came in on a fielder's choice forceout by Steve Tolleson at second after a walk to Erik Kratz loaded the bases.
Jones hit his 11th homer of the season with two outs in the bottom of the eighth, blasting a solo shot down the left-field line off Toronto reliever Dustin McGowan.
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