Orioles beat Blue Jays, spoil Nolin's major-league debut

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The Canadian Press
5/25/2013 1:51:46 AM
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TORONTO -- It was a night Sean Nolin won't soon forget. And sadly for the 23-year-old left-hander plucked from double-A ball, it was a major-league debut that will go down in the Toronto Blue Jays' record book.

Nolin managed just four outs before exiting with Baltimore leading 6-1. The Orioles went on win 10-6 in a free-swinging game Friday night that saw the teams combine for 33 hits and seven home runs.

It was more like a video game than a major league contest with the announced Rogers Centre crowd of 25,104 seeing a ton of offence and not much pitching. It was 9-3 midway through the third and every Baltimore starter had scored by the end of the sixth.

For Nolin (0-1), it was a brief misadventure in the majors. He retired just three of the 11 batters he faced -- he was helped by a double play -- for an earned-run average of 40.50.

Informed Thursday at noon that he would be pitching, Nolin was optioned back to New Hampshire within minutes of the final out.

"It was a tough go for him, no question," said Toronto manager John Gibbons. "But you know what ... (I told him) I don't want you leaving with any negative feelings. You'll be back. Some day you'll look back and laugh at this, because you're better than that.

"You never know how debuts are going to go. That's just the way the game is sometimes at this level. So go down there and continue to work. Work your way back up. You know what, you have a bright future."

Even Tony Robbins might have a hard time seeing the positives.

"Definitely not the way I envisioned it but I think I just had too much energy going," said the soft-spoken Nolin, who left the Rogers Centre holding onto the lineup card as a souvenir. "It kind of felt like I had already thrown a few innings and kind of wasted some gas without doing anything."

Still, he said he had chills as he achieved a dream to pitch in the majors.

Nolin opened with a strike, only to give up back-to-back singles followed by J.J. Hardy's ninth home run of the season. Nolin gave up another single before escaping the inning when Matt Wieters hit into a double play. The young Jay threw 21 pitches including 16 strikes in the inning.

In the second, he loaded the bases on a double, single and walk to the bottom third of the Baltimore order before Nick Markakis cleared the bases with a double for a 6-1 lead. Nolin got one more out before Gibbons mercifully brought in Ramon Ortiz.

Nolin gave up six earned runs on seven hits and one walk. He threw 35 pitches, 25 for strikes. Sadly the strikes did not seem to help.

He tied the shortest outing by a Blue Jays pitcher making his major-league debut as a starter (Mike Darr, 1977, and Jeff Ware, 1995). The six earned runs also tied the club record for most by a starting pitcher in his debut (Ware).

And while Nolin was only involved in 1 1-3 innings, the game marked the first time in franchise history that Toronto had allowed the first three batters of an inning to each score a run in three consecutive innings.

Chris Davis hit his majors-leading 16th homer of the season for the Orioles -- his third home run in as many outings and fourth in five games. Danny Valencia and Adam Jones also homered for Baltimore (26-22).

Orioles third baseman Manny Machado had three hits for the fifth straight road game. According to Elias, the only other player younger than 21 -- Machado is 20 -- with such a streak was Ty Cobb who did it 1907.

Melky Cabrera, Adam Lind and Brett Lawrie -- who was later ejected with Gibbons -- hit solo home runs for Toronto (20-28) as the teams combined for five leadoff homers.

The Jays did everything but place a chocolate on the Orioles' pillows. In addition to conceding 16 hits, they recorded an error, wild pitch, had two ejected and were caught stealing.

It's been a high-scoring start to the four-game series. Toronto won the opener 12-6 on Thursday in a game that produced 23 hits.

Desperate for someone to fill a hole in their injury-plagued starting rotation, the Jays hung their hat on a neophyte who had never appeared above double-A ball and were quickly punished for it.

Ortiz, 39, wasn't much better as the Orioles battered Blue Jays pitching for nine runs and 10 hits in the first three innings. Orioles leadoff hitter Markakis collected two singles and a double in those three innings.

Adding to Toronto's woes, Lawrie and Gibbons were ejected after the Jays third baseman was called out on strikes to end the third. Lawrie had dumped his helmet at home plate and then walked off, tossing his batting gloves behind him, after being punched out. He also appeared to have said something to plate umpire Dan Bellino during the at-bat.

Gibbons came to his defence and was also tossed.

"The umps these days in (at)mlb can suck it," tweeted Lawrie's sister Danielle, a former Canadian Olympic softball player.

"To everyone out there, I'm not saying what my brother did was RIGHT at all, I'm saying these umps are horrific and are not held accountable," she said in a later tweet.

It was Gibbons' third ejection of the season and first for Lawrie, upping Toronto's total to six.

Lawrie said he had done nothing wrong. But crew chief Wally Bell told a pool reporter that Lawrie was tossed for throwing his gloves towards Bellino "in a way that wasn't etiquette in baseball."

The volatile Lawrie was suspended for four games last season when, after striking out, he slammed his helmet into the ground and it hit the umpire.

Orioles starter Chris Tillman (4-2) also had his issues as he struggled with his control early. But he was able to limit the damage in lasting five innings, giving up three earned runs on 10 hits. He struck out seven, walked none and threw 109 pitches, including 74 strikes.

Nolin was the Jays' 10th starter of the season, with just three starts for double-A New Hampshire under his belt this season. He was 2-0 with a 1.17 ERA and 16 strikeouts in three starts for the Fisher Cats in a season disrupted by a groin strain suffered in spring training.

Toronto took the six-foot-five, 235-pound native of Seaford, N.Y., in the sixth round of the 2010 draft. Prior to that he was drafted by Milwaukee in the 50th round in 2008 and the 48th round by Seattle in 2011.




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