Encarnacion, Thames hit back-to-back homers, Blue Jays beat Orioles 8-5

TORONTO – Aside from the result, it was a day to forget for Colby Rasmus in his Toronto Blue Jays debut.

Rasmus was 0-for-5 with two strikeouts in his first game for Toronto since being acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals, but the Blue Jays still won 8-5 against the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday night.

Rasmus popped out to short on the first pitch he saw as a Blue Jay in the first inning.

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“It was a long couple of days,” he said. “I didn’t really feel that comfortable at the plate. I guess that’s to be expected. I think tomorrow will be a good day.”

Toronto manager John Farrell said Rasmus needs time to get used to his new surroundings.

“I’m sure today’s a little bit of a whirlwind for him,” Farrell said. “Coming into a new organization, a lot of requests, a lot of answers.

“Tonight he might have pulled off a few pitches that he might otherwise stay on. Again, I think it’s clearly an adjustment period for him. We’ve just got to give him an opportunity to settle in.”

Luckily for the Blue Jays (53-52) they had plenty of other hitters who were on their game and they provided enough scoring to win the deciding match of the three-game series with the struggling Orioles (41-60).

The Blue Jays exploded for four runs in the third inning, with Edwin Encarnacion and Eric Thames hitting back-to-back homers and J.P. Arencibia belting a two-run double.

Encarnacion also had a single, a double and a walk for Toronto, while Thames also had a sacrifice fly to drive in two runs.

J.J. Hardy had two homers for the Orioles for the second time in the series. He has four in the series to give him 18 for the season. Vladimir Guerrero hit his eighth homerun for Baltimore.

With the score tied 2-2 in the bottom of the third inning Orioles starter Brad Bergesen (2-7) had two out and an 0-2 count on Encarnacion with nobody on in the third and then the game fell apart for him.

Encarnacion worked the count to 3-2 and homered. Thames followed with a homer.

After a walk to Aaron Hill and a single by Travis Snider, J.P. Arencibia hit a two-run double.

Bergesen would have avoided giving up those extra two runs had third baseman Mark Reynolds came up with a throw from centre-fielder Adam Jones that beat Hill to third, and another if catcher Matt Wieters had not fumbled the relay from Reynolds to stop a hard-charding Sniger at the plate.

“There were a couple of plays here and there that could have changed the course of the game,” Reynolds said. “It’s frustrating. It happens with young teams.”

Baltimore cut it to 6-4 in the fifth on a two-run single by Jones, but the Blue Jays answered with two in the bottom half against reliever Mark Hendrickson. Encarnacion scored from third when Reynolds couldn’t handle a pickoff throw from Wieters, and Yunel Escobar followed with an RBI single.

“We had a couple of two sure outs we should have had,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.

For the fourth time this season Hardy led off the game for the Orioles with a home run. Guerrero made it 2-0 with his two-out homer.

The Blue Jays tied it in their turn at the plate. Escobar led off with a double to right. Jose Bautista walked with one out. First baseman Derrek Lee was charged with an error on a tough bouncer by Adam Lind to load the bases. Bergesen walked Encarnacion to force in a run and Thames, shoved down to sixth in lineup with Rasmus batting second, lined a sacrifice fly to right.

“At this level momentum is everything,” Bergesen said. “We had it in our favour and I gave it back.”

Carlos Villanueva (6-2) allowed six hits, including two home runs, and four runs in five innings to get the win.

Bergesen (2-7), whose wife is expecting to give birth any day, allowed six hits, including, three walks and six runs, four earned in three innings.

As for Rasmus, while he didn’t have the start he wanted he’s excited about the change of scenery.

“It was fun to watch,” Rasmus said. “It was awesome. I was feeling like I was ready to get in on some of the action. I wasn’t able to do it today but I felt pretty good. I feel good about the situation. I think it’s going to be a good time.”

Rasmus also refuted stories that Cardinal’s manager Tony La Russa did not like him.

“I wouldn’t say anybody targeted me,” Rasmus. “I was given a good opportunity there and there’s really nothing to it. I played the best I could and it just turned out the way it did. I feel like…it’s a fresh start. New guys in the clubhouse, new atmosphere and just a time to show what I’ve got.

“I was a first-round pick of the Cardinals and coming up through the minor leagues and just all the stuff that came along with that at times might have worn on me a little bit. The pressure, it wasn’t easy to deal with sometimes. I’m just going to go out there and play and try to relax.”

Notes: Attendance at Rogers Centre was 16,152. … Left-hander Brad Mills is scheduled to start Saturday against the Texas Rangers. The opening came up after left-hander Jo-Jo Reyes was designated for assignment last Saturday. Mills is 9-7 with a 3.99 ERA at triple-A Las Vegas. …Utility player was sent to Las Vegas on option to make room on the 25-man roster. …Left-hander Brett Cecil (3-4, 4.71) who pitched his first career shutout on Sunday against the Rangers will face them again on Friday. He will face right-hander Alexei Ogando (10-4, 2.79 ERA).