BALTIMORE—With one swing of the bat, Josh Donaldson turned a tight duel into a blowout and sent the historically-meagre crowd at Camden Yards scurrying toward the exits.
Donaldson hit his fourth career grand slam, and Steve Pearce homered for the third-straight game, as the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Baltimore Orioles 7-1 last night before just 7,915 chilly fans.
Gametime temperature was 44 degrees F, and a slight mist made the conditions even more miserable.
That contributed to the lowest paid attendance in the ballpark's 27-year existence, breaking the previous record of 9,129 for Baltimore versus Tampa Bay on April 12, 2010.
There were no fans at a game on April 29, 2015, when the Orioles hosted the Chicago White Sox in a closed stadium due to security concerns amid civil unrest in Baltimore.
In this one, the Jays were clinging to a 2-1 lead in the ninth before Curtis Granderson drew a bases-loaded walk and Donaldson followed with a shot to centre off rookie Nestor Cortes Jr.
“He's done that many times since he's been here,” said Jays' manager John Gibbons.
“Two-run ballgame, that makes a huge difference," he noted. "That gives the team a huge, huge lift.”
On a raw night far better suited for football, Donaldson—a three-time all-star—displayed mid-summer form.
“It's tough to hit anyhow, in general," he noted. ”The conditions definitely make it more difficult.
“But we have to be professional about it, and go out there and do our job.”
That's certainly how the 34-year-old Pearce operates.
After getting his 500th career hit in the second inning, Pearce put Toronto up 2-0 in the third with a two-run shot off Dylan Bundy (0-1) on a 3-0 pitch.
It marked the first time in his career that Pearce, who's had three separate stints with the Orioles, homered in three-consecutive games.
“He's on a nice little roll,” Gibbons said.
J.A. Happ (2-1) struck out nine in six innings, allowing one run and five hits.
He was 0-3 against the Orioles last season.
Bundy gave up two runs and four hits with 10 strikeouts in seven innings.
The right-hander has a 1.35 ERA in three starts this season yet remains winless.
“It was one mistake there," Bundy said of this outing. "But I gave up more runs than we had so that's baseball, I guess.”
Manny Machado hit a third-inning homer for the Orioles, who went 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position and stranded 12.
“We just couldn't get that big knock,” manager Buck Showalter lamented.
Slugger Chris Davis, who is off to a miserable start this season, cracked the bat over his knee after striking out in the sixth.
He later was thrown out trying to bunt against the shift during an 0-for-4 performance that lowered his batting average to .088.
Jays' first baseman Kendrys Morales strained his right hamstring running out a single and was removed for a pinch runner in the second inning.
But Gibbons did not expect Morales to land on the disabled list.
Elsewhere in the AL, Houston beat Minnesota 2-0, Tampa Bay topped Chicago 5-4, Cleveland blanked Detroit 2-0, L.A. dumped Texas 8-3, and Kansas City bombed Seattle 10-0.
Over in the NL, Washington blanked Atlanta 2-0, Milwaukee beat St. Louis 5-4 (10 innings), Philadelphia edged Cincinnati 6-5, New York doubled Miami 4-2, San Diego topped Colorado 7-6, and Arizona nipped San Francisco 2-1.
Pittsburgh at Chicago was postponed.