With each swing, there was no doubt. He twisted and unleashed and watched as the ball flew higher and higher toward the right field flag court at Camden Yards, leaving no doubt about the sentiment expressed.

Anthony Santander is back.

The phrasing there may be apt, considering it was Santander’s back that kept him out. Santander has dealt with back soreness for the entire season, and at times the pain has risen to a level that isn’t conducive to playing a sport that requires the kind of torque he displayed on two swings in Wednesday’s 7-0 win against the Toronto Blue Jays.

But Santander felt better Wednesday, and he marked his return from a three-game absence with his team-leading 22nd and 23rd home runs — good for his 13th career multihomer game, and his first since July 9. The Orioles added on from there to turn a pitcher’s duel into a more one-sided affair, yet it was Santander who left the largest impact.

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“Nice to have him back in the lineup,” manager Brandon Hyde said.

Austin Hays connects on a third-inning double. (Jess Rapfogel/Getty Images)

His impact all season is hard to overstate. As the Orioles’ longest-tenured player, he has navigated the lows of the rebuild to the highs of a season in which Baltimore leads the American League East by two games. In doing so, Santander leads the team in RBIs, is third in on-base-plus-slugging percentage, and he’s played the second-most games of any Oriole, behind only franchise cornerstone Adley Rutschman.

Santander said his back is “not 100%, but I feel much better” than he did. He credited the Orioles’ training staff with how it has managed his back ailment to keep him in the lineup. And, when he’s in there, the results follow.

“He’s definitely a favorite,” said Hyde, remembering how Santander broke onto the scene during Hyde’s first season in 2019. “To watch him mature as a hitter and as a player and as a person these last few years has been really gratifying.”

The floodgates opened with a five-run eighth inning. The Orioles followed Santander’s second homer by jumping all over a Toronto bullpen that had shut them down in Tuesday’s loss. And, with right-hander Dean Kremer’s third shutout appearance of the season, Baltimore cruised to victory, keeping pace with the second-place Tampa Bay Rays.

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The Orioles have made a habit of this. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Orioles are 31-17 in games following a loss, which is the second-best record in such games across the majors.

“Confidence,” Santander said. “Come in here every day to work hard, go out and compete every pitch, and I think that’s been a really big key for us all year.”

Against Blue Jays right-hander Kevin Gausman, a Cy Young Award candidate who entered Wednesday leading the American League in strikeouts, the Orioles had opportunities to break the game open. They loaded the bases in the second, but punchouts of Ramón Urías and Rutschman stranded all three runners. There were two runners in scoring position in the third, but Gausman again avoided a large inning by striking out Cedric Mullins.

Gausman, a former Orioles prospect, bloomed into one of the best pitchers in baseball at age 30. That’s when he earned his first All-Star appearance with the San Francisco Giants, and he became an All-Star again this season for the Blue Jays.

Still, the way Kremer pitched, Baltimore didn’t need much of a surge against Gausman.

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“We do a great job of turning the page,” Hyde said. “Last night’s game stunk. We left some runs out there early. We could’ve made it a little tougher on them, putting the ball in play there early. Fortunately, we get that big inning late, which we don’t usually get. Usually it’s a ‘hold on tight’ a lot of nights.”

Ryan Mountcastle extended his 28-game on-base streak — a stretch that leads MLB — with a third-inning single to score Gunnar Henderson. And Santander rang in his return with the first of two homers, this one a fifth-inning shot off Gausman that traveled an estimated 396 feet down the line.

Those two runs against Gausman gave Baltimore a lead to protect. Led by Kremer, the Orioles were up to the task. Kremer has allowed three runs or fewer in eight of his last nine appearances as he continues to perform down the stretch, and he’s produced three straight quality starts.

“It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” Kremer said. “That’s the goal, to really peak when September and hopefully October hit.”

Kremer, who started Wednesday rather than Thursday because right-hander Jack Flaherty was scratched, threw six scoreless innings with five hits and five strikeouts. Behind him, the Orioles’ bullpen held steady — then exhaled when a flurry of runs crossed in the eighth.

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Santander began it all with his second homer, another blast to right that alerted all watching of his presence back in the lineup.