IAN HARRISON, Associated Press
TORONTO (AP) — Jose Bautista understands it’s been a “slow month” for the Blue Jays offense.
If things don’t speed up soon, Toronto might miss out on a wild card spot.
Ubaldo Jimenez and two relievers combined on a three-hitter and the Baltimore Orioles beat the Blue Jays 4-0 on Thursday night, moving into a tie with Toronto in the AL wild card race with three games remaining.
“He executed well, kept us off-balance and made some good pitches,” Bautiusta said of Jimenez. “His ball was moving.”
Toronto was held scoreless for the third time in September. The Blue Jays have lost 16 straight games in which they haven’t homered. They went 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position Thursday.
“We just need to get back to hitting the baseball, getting on base and knocking them in,” Bautista said. “It falls on guys like me to drive the runs in and we have to do a better job.”
The Orioles visit New York for the final weekend of the season, while Toronto head to Boston to face the AL East champion Red Sox.
“Boston is a tough place to play but our guys play pretty good there,” manager John Gibbons said. “I’m not worried about our guys. We’ve got our backs up against the wall but we’re a good spot.”
Detroit, which was rained out Thursday, is 1 1/2 games behind the Orioles and Blue Jays.
When he last started at Toronto on June 12, Jimenez allowed five runs and six hits in 1/3 of an inning, the shortest start of his career.
The right-hander carved up the Blue Jays for 6 2-3 innings. The only hit he allowed was Ezequiel Carrera’s single to begin the first. Josh Donaldson followed with a walk but Jimenez retired the next six batters in order.
“He basically shut us down,” Gibbons said. “We couldn’t get anything going.”
Toronto’s Marcus Stroman (9-10) gave up nine hits and four runs in seven-plus innings, reaching the 200-inning plateau for the first time. Stroman is winless in eight starts.
“We’re hoping our luck starts to turn,” Stroman said. “We’re hoping to go into Boston and come out firing.”
Jimenez (8-12) improved to 3-1 with a 2.31 ERA in five September starts. He walked three and struck out five.
“(Jimenez) was in command pretty much all night,” Orioles catcher Matt Wieters said. “In a big game like that, he really kept his emotions under control like I knew he would. He threw the ball great.”
Donnie Hart got one out in the seventh and Brad Brach finished.
Baltimore trailed through eight innings on Wednesday before winning 3-2 on Hyun Soo Kim’s two-run homer in the ninth. Thanks to Jimenez’s effort on Thursday, the Orioles have won five of six.
“This time of year, momentum is huge,” Wieters said. “Over 162 (games), momentum is going to come and go but once you start getting close to the playoffs, momentum is big. We’re going to try and keep it going as long as we can.”
LONG ODDS WITHOUT LONG BALL
Toronto is 8-34 this season when it does not homer.
END OF THE LINE
Toronto’s team-record streak of starting pitchers allowing one earned run or less ended at seven games.
The crowd of 47,791 was Toronto’s 39th sellout. The Blue Jays drew an AL-high 3,392,099 this season.
Blue Jays: Travis returned after sitting out the previous two games. He jammed his surgically repaired shoulder in Monday’s benches-clearing brawl with New York.
Orioles: Yovani Gallardo left Toronto on Thursday afternoon to fly to New York, where he will start Friday night against the Yankees. Gallardo (5-8, 5.63) allowed eight runs, seven earned, in 1 1/3 innings in his previous start at New York, a 14-4 loss on Aug. 26. RHP Michael Pineda (6-11, 4.68) starts for the Yankees.
Blue Jays: RHP Marco Estrada will start against the Red Sox on Friday night. Estrada has allowed one run and five hits in 14 innings over his previous two outings. Rick Porcello (22-4, 3.11) starts for the Red Sox.
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