For all the positive energy DL Hall brought on Friday, when he made his first relief appearance for the Orioles and struck out two of the three Oakland Athletics he faced, the first game of Monday’s doubleheader against the Toronto Blue Jays cast more clouds around which role best suits the left-hander.
The 23-year-old prospect made his debut last month as a starter, then was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk to learn how to pitch out of the bullpen. His ability to provide length was seen as a positive, particularly if he could harness his command to pair with his high-powered arsenal.
But after retiring the final batter of the eighth inning, Hall returned for the ninth and didn’t record an out. A deficit that had been trimmed to one leaped to four behind the four singles and a walk against Hall before manager Brandon Hyde came to the mound at Camden Yards to remove him.
The stream of late-game runs for the Blue Jays pushed them to a 7-3 victory in the first game of Monday’s doubleheader, which holds significant postseason implications. Before the nightcap, Toronto’s lead over Baltimore for the final American League wild-card spot grew to 3 1/2 games.
Moments before Hall’s rocky outing, Anthony Santander gave the Orioles (71-63) a chance with his second home run of the afternoon — launching one from each side of the plate for his team-leading 26th and 27th homers. But a low slider called for strike three against Ryan Mountcastle in the next at-bat in the bottom of the eighth inning left a deflating feeling only compounded when three runs crossed against Hall.
First thing this morning, when Hyde heard right-hander Jordan Lyles woke up feeling under the weather, he called right-hander Mike Baumann to reverse the order of the starting pitchers in Monday’s doubleheader. Hyde kept his “fingers crossed” that Lyles would be ready for the second game of a critical series.
Baumann was serviceable in his five innings, allowing three runs on eight hits. Baumann, who began the year as a reliever before stretching out as a starter again in Triple-A, has stood out for the Tides of late, allowing two earned runs in his past 16 innings.
He only induced six whiffs, though, and gave up 11 batted balls with exit velocities of 95 mph or faster, according to Statcast. Still, he kept Baltimore in the game, even though he exited with his team squandering several chances with runners in scoring position.
In the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, Baltimore had the leadoff man reach base. In the fourth, a balk from right-hander Kevin Gausman pushed Adley Rutschman to second. Then three straight strikeouts ended the threat. Two runners reached with no outs in the fifth before to a popup, flyout and groundout ended the scoring threat.
The sixth, however, led to a breakthrough. Once Rutschman singled, Mountcastle drove a run-scoring double off the right field fence to cut the Blue Jays’ lead to 3-2.
Hyde opted for a right-handed heavy lineup against Gausman, considering the former Oriole’s reverse splits this season — he entered Monday with a .243 average against lefties but a .299 average against righties. The majority of the damage early came from left-handed bats, however, with Santander’s blast reaching Eutaw Street in the first inning. Three of the first four hits for Baltimore came from Santander, Cedric Mullins and Gunnar Henderson.
Keeping it a one-run deficit became the bullpen’s task, and right-hander Bryan Baker let out a fist pump and yell after he reared back to throw a 99.6 mph fastball past Bo Bichette to strand runners on second and third in the seventh.
But Baker stood with his hands on his hips one inning later, watching as the inside cutter he threw to Teoscar Hernandez was throttled to straightaway center field for a homer. For an offense coming off its eighth shutout Sunday and went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position in the first game Monday, the sudden influx of runs proved too much to overcome.
Around the horn
- The Orioles claimed right-hander Jake Reed off waivers from the Los Angeles Dodgers while infielder Jonathan Araúz was placed on the restricted list. Araúz is away from Triple-A Norfolk, and his restricted list designation opened a place on the 40-man roster for Reed, who has bounced around on waivers from the New York Mets to the Dodgers and now the Orioles this season.
- Right-hander Phoenix Sanders, who was designated for assignment Saturday to allow Baltimore to claim right-hander Anthony Castro from the Cleveland Guardians, cleared waivers and remains with the Tides.
This story will be updated.