Pitching problems were more on everyone's mind. Starter Steve Trachsel and two Baltimore relievers had trouble, as Toronto jumped to an early five-run lead and never looked back en route to an 11-3 victory before 15,017 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Boston's victory over the Indians moved the Red Sox into the top spot in the American League East, a half-game ahead of the Orioles and the Blue Jays, both of whom are tied for second, at 8-6. But, in order to keep pace with those teams, the Orioles need to stay away from nights like this.
Trachsel (1-2) lasted just 2 1/3 innings, allowing five runs on five hits. Greg Aquino followed, and gave up four runs on five hits. Later, Dennis Sarfate had more problems as the Blue Jays banged out two runs on four hits in the ninth and finished with 16 overall, as each starter had at least one hit.
But the problems began with Trachsel, who had been strong in his first two starts this season. He allowed a run in the first, plus four more in the third before Trembley pulled him.
"Pitching sets the tone on both sides, and obviously [Toronto starter Shaun] Marcum was on top of his game and Trachsel wasn't," Trembley said. "For Trachsel, most of his pitches were up, and it just wasn't his night."
Trachsel ran into trouble from the start. He hit Toronto leadoff batter David Eckstein to start the game. Eckstein then stole second and went to third on an Aaron Hill single, and scored when Alex Rios grounded into a forceout, for a quick 1-0 lead.
The Blue Jays broke it open in the third. Hill belted a three-run homer to left field off Trachsel to make it 4-0. Trachsel then walked Rios and gave up a single to Vernon Wells and walked Frank Thomas, which ended the pitcher's night. Rios scored on a sacrifice fly off Aquino for a fifth run off Trachsel, who said he just never found his way.
"No fastball command, and I was pitching behind in the count from the very beginning," Trachsel said. "I can't do that. It's just a bad, bad start."
Trachsel threw only 34 of his 67 pitches for strikes and walked three, striking out one. Aquino had similar problems during his three-inning stint. The right-hander allowed four runs on five hits and also struck out one and walked three. He has a 12.00 ERA after his first five appearances.
Aquino's pitch count was similar to Trachsel's. He threw just 33 strikes out of 65 pitches as Toronto added to its lead. Trembley said that the Orioles had to stretch Aquino out and get a lot out of him because the bullpen was thin.
"You obviously can't afford to have these types of games very often because it takes its toll on your bullpen," Trembley said.
Randor Bierd came on to throw 2 1/3 scoreless innings. The right-hander struck out one and didn't walk any, giving up two hits in his stint. But Sarfate ran into trouble again in the ninth, needing 29 pitches to get through that inning as the Blue Jays added two more runs.
The Orioles couldn't find much success against Marcum (2-0, 2.61 ERA). He gave up just two runs on four hits in 6 2/3 innings and kept his opponents quiet much of the night.
Adam Jones hit his first homer as an Oriole on the night he wore Jackie Robinson's number, a solo shot in the fifth that curved just inside the left-field foul pole. The center fielder walked twice more, reaching base three times overall.
"It's fine, but we lost," Jones said. "The individual stats don't mean anything. It's a team game. We couldn't get a couple of guys on, and get that big hit off of him."
Jones went 4-for-5 in the two-game series, raising his average from .211 to 279.
Nick Markakis and Melvin Mora both added solo homers. Markakis hit his in the third inning off Marcum for the Orioles' first run. Mora's came against Jesse Carlson in the eighth inning when the game was long gone.
The loss ended Baltimore's six-game home winning streak. The Orioles meet the White Sox in a two-game series starting Wednesday.
Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less