For one night, the Orioles got real comfortable in what has been their own house of horrors, turning the series opener against the Toronto Blue Jays into a glorified round of batting practice.
On the other end of so many beatings at Rogers Centre, the Orioles delivered one of their own, pounding out four home runs and a season-high eight extra-base hits en route to a 12-4 rout in front of an announced 17,477.
"That was something really special, especially to do that here," said Orioles starter Jake Arrieta, who was the recipient of all the run support. "I think everybody knows that we've struggled here at the Rogers Centre in the past. We haven't played well in this ballpark, but pretty much from top to bottom, everybody contributed."
The Orioles' fourth victory here in the past 29games was all but secured by the middle innings when the visitors scored two runs in both the second and third innings off Toronto starter Brandon Morrow and then three runs in both the fourth and fifth innings.
The 12 runs were a season high and marked the first time the Orioles have scored in double digits here since April 22, 2005, a stretch of 58games.
"There was a nice air about everybody tonight during batting practice. Hopefully it continues," said Orioles manager Buck Showalter, whose team broke a seven-game road losing streak. "It was like every time they started to creep back in it, guys would come in and put another crooked number up. It was one of those not-to-be-denied nights."
The Orioles, who won their second consecutive game at Rogers Centre after dropping 16 straight, finished with 16 total hits. Every Oriole had at least one, and all nine starters reached base twice except designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero, who returned from the disabled list to go 1-for-5 with a single and a run scored.
Shortstop J.J. Hardy hit two home runs, giving him 16 for the season, and also drove in four. First baseman Derrek Lee went 4-for-5 with a double and a homer, and had a season-high five RBIs. Left fielder Nolan Reimold, getting another start against a right-handed pitcher, went 2-for-5 with a homer and two RBIs.
"This team has beaten up on us pretty good. It's nice to come in here, score some runs and get a win," said Lee, who got everything started with a two-run double in the second inning that eluded the Blue Jays' diving center fielder, Travis Snider. Lee has 17 RBIs over his past 16 games. "I've had some good results. I still don't exactly feel great. I feel OK. It's kind of been a grind every day. I'll just continue to work and try to have good at-bats."
The offensive outburst came on a night when Arrieta struggled to get through five innings, allowing four earned runs on five hits and two walks. He allowed all four of those runs on homers as Adam Lind continued to vex the Orioles with a three-run blast in the third inning that cut the visitors' lead to 4-3. Lind has homered in five straight games against the Orioles. Aaron Hill added a solo shot in the fourth after the Orioles had scored three times in the top of the inning to take a 7-3 lead.
But that was the extent of the Blue Jays' offense. Jason Berken got out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth on his way to three scoreless innings, and Mark Hendrickson got the final three outs in the ninth to preserve Arrieta's 10th victory and his first since June 20. He had failed in four previous tries at 10 wins.
"It does feel good," Arrieta said. "It's nice to get it out of the way. Hopefully, I can pile on a few more and finish the season with some momentum."
Arrieta exited the game after getting nailed in the right foot by Edwin Encarnacion's comebacker, the ball bouncing to Lee at first base for the final out of the inning. X-rays taken on Arrieta were negative, and he said that he expects to make his next start.
"Foot is good," Arrieta said. "Initially, I thought it was maybe going to be a little worse than it was because I had trouble putting pressure on it, but now all my mobility is there. It just seems like a light bruise. I'll be fine."
Fortunately, it appears that Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista will be as well. The All-Star took a 91 mph 0-2 fastball from Arrieta in the side of the helmet in the third inning and was forced to leave the game.
Bautista, who stayed down for a while, eventually walked off the field under his own power. Toronto manager John Farrell said Bautista was feeling fine and exhibiting no concussion symptoms, and could play today. Arrieta sent his regards to the American League home run leader through the Blue Jays' athletic training staff when the pitcher went to get X-rays.
"Obviously, there's zero intent on my part there," Arrieta said. "With a guy like that, he's a guy that needs to be in their lineup every day. He's good for the game and good for Toronto. Just a scary moment right there."
It certainly marred an uplifting and rare impressive performance by the Orioles, who are very familiar with the type of beatdown that the Blue Jays endured Tuesday night.
"At this stage, we're not looking at how we've done it," Showalter said. "We just want to play better baseball."
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