BALTIMORE (AP) — Bo Bichette hit a career-high three home runs in the second game of a doubleheader, and the Toronto Blue Jays defeated the Baltimore Orioles 8-4 Monday night to complete a sweep and widen their lead in the AL wild-card race.
Bichette hit a three-run homer off Nick Vespi in the third inning, then added solo drives in the sixth and seventh off Bruce Zimmermann. The shortstop had six hits and seven RBIs during the doubleheader, is hitting .400 (24 for 60) over his last 15 games and has 21 home runs this season.
“I think today was probably the most competitive we’ve been all year,” Bichette said. “It’s a good thing at this time of year, especially in this series.”
According to STATS, Bichette is the first American League shortstop to record six hits and three home runs on a single day.
“It’s just a really good hitter getting hot,” Toronto interim manager John Schneider said. “We’ve said this all along that Bo’s a huge part of our team and offense, and right now he’s locked in.”
Bichette lined to center in the ninth when he came up with a chance to tie the major league record of four home runs in a game. He matched a career high with five RBIs in the nightcap.
Toronto won the opener 7-3 behind Kevin Gausman, who allowed two runs in 6 2/3 innings in his first outing at Camden Yards since Baltimore traded him in July 2018.
Cavan Biggio also homered in the second game for the Blue Jays, who won their fifth in a row and extended their lead over Baltimore to 4½ games for the AL’s third and final wild-card spot. The teams will meet 10 times in the final 31 days of the regular season, a stretch that began Monday.
Rougned Odor and Adley Rutschman homered in the second game for Baltimore. The Orioles have lost three in a row, their longest skid since a four-game slide from June 28-July 2.
Toronto starter José Berríos (10-5) allowed three runs and eight hits in six-plus innings. He struck out two.
Baltimore scratched scheduled starter Jordan Lyles between games of the doubleheader. Lyles went to warm up but was not feeling well and was replaced by Keegan Akin (3-2). Akin allowed two runs in 2 1/3 innings, and both came around on Bichette’s blast that put Toronto ahead 3-1.
“It was right before the lineup (card) exchange,” Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde said. “I had Akin sprint down and get ready as fast as possible. … That’s kind of the way it goes. We’re short and it didn’t turn out well.”
The Blue Jays broke it open in the sixth against Zimmermann. Bichette led off with a homer to secure his eighth career multi-homer game, and Biggio followed with a solo drive two batters later. After back-to-back singles, Jackie Bradley Jr. laced a two-run double.
Bichette homered again with one out in the seventh, becoming the first Blue Jays player with a three-homer game since Vladimir Guerrero Jr. did it April 13 against the New York Yankees. According to STATS, they are the second pair of American League teammates under age 25 to have three-homer games in the same season, joining Lou Gehrig and Tony Lazzeri of the 1927 Yankees.
Teoscar Hernández hit his 20th home run in the first game to support Gausman (11-9), selected by Baltimore as fourth overall in the 2012 draft. He zipped through the club’s minor league system and pitched for the Orioles from 2013-18.
His biggest obstacle in his return to Baltimore was arguably a fourth-inning balk call. Gausman stormed off the mound and started arguing with second base umpire Jeff Nelson before Bichette rushed in to hold him back.
“If you actually look at the replay, I did stop,” Gausman said. “I just felt like Jeff, for whatever reason, wanted to make that call and went into the game knowing that he was going to make that call. It’s unfortunate. Obviously, I was pretty heated and Bo kind of saved of me and did a good job of just reminding me that ‘Hey, we have two games today. It’s not just one game.’”
Baltimore’s Anthony Santander homered from both sides of the plate for his seventh career multi-homer game in the opener. Mike Baumann (1-3), added as the Orioles’ 29th man, allowed three runs in five innings in his first career start.
The holiday doubleheader included a makeup of an Aug. 10 rainout during Toronto’s first visit to Baltimore this season.
Blue Jays: Toronto activated RHP Julian Merryweather (abdominal strain) from the 60-day injured list before the second game. The Blue Jays optioned RHP Casey Lawrence to Triple-A Buffalo and designated C Zack Collins for assignment. … RHP Zach Pop was added as the team’s 29th man. Pop worked a scoreless ninth in the opener.
Orioles: In addition to adding Baumann, Baltimore recalled RHP Beau Sulser from Triple-A Norfolk for and optioned RHP Rico Garcia to Norfolk. Sulser was optioned back to Norfolk after pitching an inning in the opener. Baltimore recalled Zimmermann from Norfolk for the second game. … Baltimore claimed RHP Jake Reed off waivers from the Los Angeles Dodgers and placed INF Jonathan Araúz on the restricted list. RHP Phoenix Sanders cleared outright waivers and was assigned to Norfolk.
Blue Jays: RHP Mitch White (1-5, 4.67 ERA) is 0-2 with a 12.10 ERA in his last two outings. He faces Baltimore for the first time Tuesday.
Orioles: RHP Kyle Bradish (3-5, 5.17) has allowed four hits over 15 scoreless innings over his last two appearances to win consecutive starts after earning just one victory in his first 15 turns in the rotation. He is 0-1 with a 6.91 ERA in three outings against Toronto.
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