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Listening Tapia helps Jays beat Orioles 6-3

TORONTO – Left fielder Raimel Tapia played brilliantly with his stick and his glove to provide a superb September for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Tapia’s impressive play in the Blue Jays’ 6-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday helped improve Toronto’s September record to a 13-4 Major League Baseball record.

The straight wins over Baltimore also gave the Blue Jays six straight series wins and put the club 20 games above .500 for the first time since finishing 2021 at 91-71.

“I feel great,” said Tapia, who recently enjoyed a lot of playing time with regular outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. on the 10-day disabled list with hamstring strain.

“But even when I’m not playing, I stay focused. I’m going to the batting cage because you have to be ready.

Tapia was ready from the start on Saturday. First, he caught a fly ball off the bat of Orioles leadoff hitter Cedric Mullins, who looked destined to hit the fence for a double.

Then, in the fifth inning, with the Blue Jays’ lead reduced to 3-2, left-handed hitter Tapia came home with the bases loaded and two out. He slammed a double to center field to clear the bases.

“I love those moments,” Tapia said. “I love feeding off the fans and their energy.”

Tapia’s capture was the start of a top-notch defensive outing by Toronto. George Springer had a great dive off Ramon Urias’ sinking ball in the fourth inning.

Jackie Bradley Jr. came into the game to make a nice power grab in the ninth. Santiago Espinal made a pair of good plays in the second, and shortstop Bo Bichette had to step over second base and runner Terrin Vavra in the second inning to register a tricky pop-fly out.

The Blue Jays’ strong month (83-63) widened their gap over the Orioles (75-69) to seven games in the American League wildcard race.

Toronto is in first place in the battle for the three wildcard spots, while the Orioles are fourth.

“We had some good starting pitchers,” Toronto interim manager John Schneider said. “We hit at the right time, today a great defense. Obviously, this is a good recipe.

The Blue Jays scored a run in the first inning on Matt Chapman’s sacrifice fly and two more in the second when Cavan Biggio and Espinal knocked out singles with one out and scored on Springer’s double out of the field fence left.

Baltimore starter Kyle Bradish (3-7) has calmed down after his shaky start. He gave up nine straight until a pitching error from a fifth-inning out by Urias sparked a Blue Jays rally.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a first-inning hit that dribbled past the third base line, reached base on Urias’ error.

Bradish last hitter Chapman walked, as did Teoscar Hernandez, to load the bases when Baltimore reliever Jake Reed took over. This set the stage for Tapia’s double.

Bradish went 4 2/3 innings, giving up six hits for three unearned runs, a walk and three strikeouts.

Toronto starter Jose Berrios (11-5) went six innings, striking out three, walking two and giving up seven hits before 44,448 at Rogers Center.

He was scored for a pair of runs in the third inning. A first brace from Mullins and a brace with a strikeout from Anthony Santander put the Orioles first and second.

Baltimore shortstop Gunnar Henderson led teammates with a left single to cut the Blue Jays lead to 3-2.

Henderson also doubled with one out in the eighth inning and scored on Terrin Vavra’s single against Toronto reliever Yimi Garcia.

Blue Jays stopper Jordan Romano closed the deal in the ninth inning for his 34th save, the 21st at home, the most saves by a Toronto reliever since Kelvim Escobar’s 22 in 2002.

INJURY UPDATE

Schneider reported there was a chance that Alejandro Kirk (hip) could return after a four-game absence to catch Alek Manoah on Sunday. Kirk has been behind the plate for all of Manoah’s 28 starts this season.

Gurriel is eligible to come off the 10-game disabled list on Sunday.

NEXT

Manoah (14-7) will face Orioles right-hander Dean Kremer (7-5) in Sunday’s series finale. Manoah is 2-1 with a no-decision decision in four starts with eight earned runs in 24 2/3 innings against Baltimore in 2022.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on September 17, 2022.

© 2022 The Canadian Press