Blue Jays manager John Gibbons couldn't have envisioned that the first pitch of Wednesday's game would be the difference maker in Toronto's 2-1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.
Adam Jones doubled in Tim Beckham — who reached on a throwing error from Josh Donaldson on Marcus Stroman's first pitch — then scored on a Trey Mancini triple for a 2-0 lead.
Baltimore held on from there, snapping a streak of six straight losses while handing the Jays their first defeat in five games.
"You usually don't see throws like that first play of the game," Gibbons said of the costly error. "That's rare but it happens."
Stroman (11-8) allowed six hits along with the two unearned runs over 92 pitches in six innings of work. He also walked three and struck out seven.
But he didn't blame his defence for the loss.
"I didn't do what I needed to do in those circumstances," Stroman said.
"I think I made some good pitches there [in the first inning]," the right-hander added. "The only pitch I regret was the pitch to Mancini. I got in on Jones, he didn't hit it on the barrel he just kind of muscled it out there. But the slider on Mancini just kind of slipped. I usually pride myself on being better in those situations."
Concern over Stroman
Kevin Gausman (11-10) pitched seven sharp innings for Baltimore (72-74) to improve to 3-0 against the Blue Jays this season. He allowed one run on six hits while striking out six, walking one and hitting a batter — his first pitch to Jose Bautista in the second inning.
Closer Zach Britton bounced back after blowing a one-run lead in Toronto's 3-2 walkoff victory on Tuesday night. He worked around a one-out single for his 14th save.
The outing could have been much worse for Stroman.
The 26-year-old appeared to run into trouble in the fourth when a lead-off double and two walks loaded the bases with no out. But a strikeout and double play ended the threat and Stroman celebrated by pounding his chest and shouting as he skipped off the field.
Then in the sixth inning, Stroman received a mound visit from Gibbons and head trainer George Poulis after he grimaced and shook out his arm following a pitch. Stroman stayed in the game, walking the next batter before getting another double play to escape the inning.
"You always get concerned when you see that," Gibbons said. "His forearm was a little tight. But he was good, good stuff tonight."
Stroman had to leave his last start against the Orioles on Sept. 2 after 1 2/3 innings when he was struck on his throwing arm by a Mark Trumbo liner.
After the game, Stroman said he has lingering effects from that hit.
"Yeah just a little bit [of tightness in the forearm]," he said. "People forget I got hit on a missile by Trumbo two starts ago so I'm still dealing with that and I threw six days after that.
"So still battling, nothing I'm worried about. Got a little tightness on one particular pitch but it felt fine the pitch after."
Rookie Richard Urena had a run-scoring double for Blue Jays (68-78) in the third inning, scoring fellow rookie Teoscar Hernandez from third base while extending his hit streak to six games. The 21-year-old shortstop came into Wednesday's contest batting .429 over the homestand.
The loss was Toronto's first in five games.
Russell Martin received a warm ovation from the crowd of 31,714 in his first at-bat in the second inning. It was Martin's first game since Aug. 11 when he injured his left oblique. He was 0 for 3.