For a starting pitcher coming off a poor outing, the four days leading up to his next start are the most brutal. There's plenty of time to think, to replay the mistakes over in your mind, to overanalyze.
So these past four days were rough for
"You think about it in your head between starts," Saunders said. "It's tough as a pitcher any time you have a bad start."
Orioles pitching coach Rick Adair told Saunders to keep trusting his stuff. Catcher
Eventually, it’s time to look forward, and that’s exactly what the 31-year-old Saunders did in the Orioles’ series opener against the
Saunders took a perfect game into the sixth inning — retiring the first 17 Blue Jays batters he faced — in leading the Orioles to a 4-0 shutout win over Toronto in front of an announced
"First game of the series, you always want to set the tone," Saunders said. "When you throw up a couple zeros there early on, that gives your offense a chance to put up some numbers. We were able to do that today and get some early runs. I just said, 'Hey, try to get as many outs as you can.'"
Now the Orioles (76-59) — who have won eight of their past 10 games — are knocking on the door of the
That made the effort of Saunders, acquired from the Diamondbacks on Aug. 26, even more important
"He was the difference today," Showalter said of Saunders, "because I know our guys were really challenged physically today. I thought the adrenaline of Joe really wanting to make his mark would be a big difference maker for us on the plane ride coming out.
"That game today is a real [gut] check. I hope everybody is looking forward to getting more than three or four hours sleep."
In retiring the first 17 batters he faced, Saunders threw 10 first-pitch balls, but he pounded his two-seam sinking fastball down in the strike zone against an aggressive Blue Jays lineup.
"Location was key today," Wieters said. "He had good stuff. He was able to attack with his fastball most of the day and we were able to scratch off a few runs early and Joe was able to do a good job of making it hold up. After a few [at-bats], you knew he was going to have some good stuff to throw at you."
Saunders won his first game in nearly a month and yielded zero earned runs in a start for the first time since July 14.
The win put the Orioles 16 games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 1997 season, the last time the O's had a winning record. It was also their 29th win against the AL East — a critical stat as the Orioles push for a playoff spot — surpassing last year's season total with 23 division games still to play.
It was the Orioles’ third win in four games on this six-game road trip to New York and Toronto. The Orioles are 38-29 on the road, and their .567 winning percentage away from
The Orioles, who left 14 runners on base, jumped on Blue Jays pitcher
Manny Machado led off the second inning slapping a ball deep down the right-field line that
The Orioles opened the fourth with four straight base hits off Happ — who struck out nine Orioles — including back-to-back RBI doubles to left by
Saunders was relieved by