Our long national nightmare is over. The Orioles finally won a game in New York after losing four in a row. Turns out that it's pretty easy to win a game when you hit three home runs and your starter pitches seven innings. Go figure. They beat the Yankees, 6-2, to snap their losing streak before things got even sillier.
The first inning did not offer many signs that this day would be the one for the Orioles to stop losing. Yankees starter Chase Whitley had three strikeouts in the first inning of the game. Someone could hardly blame you for thinking that it was going to be one of THOSE games, especially after it took Wei-Yin Chen 26 pitches to get through the bottom of the first inning. That looked like it was heading towards another short Orioles starter outing, another day with the bullpen getting hammered.
As it turned out, though, that was not the game the teams played on Saturday afternoon. Good for the O's that it wasn't.
The O's ended up striking first in the game, when surprise 2015 contributor Jimmy Paredes whipped a pitch over the fence in right field for his fifth home run of the season. That was his first hit of the day but not the last. When all was said and done, Paredes finished 3-5 on the day and was a double short of the cycle. His home run put the Orioles up 1-0.
After this game, Paredes is now batting .347/.373/.681 on the season. Wow.
With Paredes hitting his fifth home run, that put him only one behind Chris Davis for the club lead. Obviously that can't stand, so Davis rectified the situation with a home run of his own the very next inning. When he's bad, he's bad, but when he's not bad, he hits homers.
Perhaps a bit suspiciously, the next batter after Davis, Steve Pearce, was hit by a pitch. That's never a good look when the next guy after a home run is hit. The O's got revenge for this the best way you can, with another home run, this one off the bat of Alejandro De Aza. That was a bit of a Yankee Stadium special that just kind of sailed out on a protect the plate with two strikes swing. It still counts and the Orioles were up 4-0 by the time the inning was over.
Chen followed the Orioles big inning by retiring the Yankees on four pitches in the bottom of the fourth. Is that even allowed? Apparently it is. That got him back on a nice pace and Chen held things together as his pitch count escalated. There was relief up behind him in the seventh inning but he got through a little jam. Chen gave up one run on five hits and a walk in seven innings of work. He struck out seven Yankees batters.
After the outing, Chen's ERA for the season sat at 2.52. He's been a hard-luck loser or no decisioned pitcher in his starts up to this point; MASN showed a graphic during the game noting Chen's ERA was the lowest in club history to be winless after five or more starts. As a general rule, you probably don't want to be on any list that also includes Jeff Ballard. Picking up the win this afternoon, Chen cleared his way out of that company.
An unearned run crossed the plate in the eighth for New York, as Ryan Flaherty bobbled a catchable flare that eventually led to a run scoring. Another error in the ninth inning, this one a throwing error by Manny Machado - his seventh already - turned the game into a save situation and Zach Britton was summoned to end the foolishness. Britton did so, getting two ground balls to bring the game to a close and get his sixth save of the year.
The game ended in the most exciting fashion possible, with a replay challenge after the final out. That was sarcasm just there. Nothing quite like players milling around, with the game sorta being over but not really. Brett Gardner grounded a ball to first baseman Davis and though Gardner took the idiot's route of diving into first base, he almost beat Britton to the bag.
As my high school Chemistry teacher would have said, almost only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear missiles. Gardner was out, the game was over, the beer was cold.
The O's made the most of nine hits. In addition to Paredes' three hits, Delmon Young also had a multi-hit game for the Orioles. He drove in two runs.
Good thing the Orioles won this one, too, because tomorrow brings us a pitching matchup of Bud Norris against Michael Pineda, which, on paper, looks to not really favor the Orioles. Anything can happen, though, and in the game of baseball, it often does happen.
For today, the Orioles are winners, now two games below .500 and 4.5 games behind the division-leading Yankees. They're also a game ahead of the last-place Boston Red Sox, a tidbit I have included solely because there's never a bad time to point out that the team in the basement of the American League East is the last-place Boston Red Sox.