Published November 20, 2014
By learning to forget the recent past, Kyle Drabek looks set to cash in on a bright future.
Drabek won back-to-back starts for the first time in his career, Edwin Encarnacion and Brett Lawrie backed him with home runs and the Toronto Blue Jays used a seven-run sixth inning to beat the Baltimore Orioles 9-2 on Sunday.
"Another outstanding effort by Kyle today," said Blue Jays manager John Farrell, who credited the young right-hander's improved calm and composure this season after a rough 2011.
"It's a tale of two people in some ways," Farrell said. "He has kept things under control, he has kept his composure."
Last year, Farrell said, Drabek would get worked up when things went wrong, so much so that he "pitched more like a middle linebacker."
"That intensity worked against him," Farrell said. "He'd start overthrowing and lose command of the strike zone. You see frustration from him every now and then but he has the wherewithal to step back, regroup and kind of release some of that tension."
Drabek (2-0) allowed one earned run and six hits in 7 1-3 innings, struck out six and walked one. He acknowledged his improved mental outlook has made the difference on the mound.
"It's gotten better from last year in that it's a lot easier to forget," he said. "You've just got to let it go and get back out there and keep trying to make your pitches."
The Orioles were impressed with what they saw from Drabek.
"He's solid," manager Buck Showalter said. "He's got good late life on his fastball. You can tell why they like him so much."
Encarnacion hit a two-run homer and Lawrie added a solo shot as the Blue Jays avoided what would have been their first three-game sweep by Baltimore since April 2005.
Baltimore left-hander Brian Matusz (0-2) allowed five runs and seven hits in 5 2-3 innings and saw losing streak hit 11, the longest active run of defeats in the majors.
"It's so frustrating," Matusz said. "I'm just flat-out not getting the job done."
Matusz, who walked four and struck out four, has not won since June 6, 2011, against Oakland. He was 1-9 in 12 starts last season. The former first round pick fell to 0-3 with a 13.09 ERA in four career starts against Toronto.
After winning the first two games of the series, it was a disappointing finale for the Orioles, who gave up more runs in one inning than they had allowed in any game so far this season.
Yunel Escobar had three hits and drove in two runs for Toronto, while Encarnacion reached base four times, drove in two runs and scored twice. Lawrie had two hits and three RBIs.
Luis Perez got two outs in the eighth and fellow lefty Evan Crawford made his major league debut in a scoreless ninth.
Baltimore took the lead in the second on Ronny Paulino's RBI groundout. Toronto tied it in the fourth when Lawrie hit his first homer of the season.
The Orioles reclaimed the lead in the sixth when Adam Jones hit his third home run, a drive off the facing of the third deck in left.
"Crushed it," Jones said. "Point blank."
Toronto broke open the game in the bottom half, sending 13 batters to the plate. After Jose Bautista led off with a double and Encarnacion homered, Ben Francisco singled and Rajai Davis walked before Showalter replaced Matusz with former Blue Jays closer Kevin Gregg, who was booed as he took the mound.
Jeff Mathis greeted Gregg with an RBI single, Escobar followed with a two-run double and Kelly Johnson also doubled. Gregg walked Bautista and Escobar to load the bases for Lawrie, who drove in the seventh run of the inning when he was hit on the left shoulder.
"(Gregg) made some mistakes and paid the price for it," Showalter said.
Gregg finally ended the inning when Francisco, the seventh batter he faced, flied out.
Toronto added one more against Troy Patton in the eighth when Encarnacion hit a two-out double and scored on Lawrie's single.
NOTES: Baltimore C Matt Wieters got his first day off this season. He was replaced by Paulino. ... The Orioles fell to 5-1 when scoring first. ... Baltimore DH Nick Johnson was hit on the left arm by a pitch in the eighth, but stayed in the game. ... Seven of Encarnacion's 11 hits this season have extra-base hits. ... Toronto has not been swept at home since June 10-12, 2011, when they dropped three straight to Boston.