After limping into the All-Star break with another lost series and losing game one of the second half of the season, it felt like the Orioles might continue to disappoint us. And maybe they still will, but not this weekend. They won the final two games in Detroit, wrapping things up with a 9-3 blowout today that was capped off by six-run fourth inning, in a game the featured home run from both Adam Jones and Jonathan Schoop.
O's Own Verlander
Justin Verlander has not been classic Verlander in awhile now. But seeing his name as the starting pitcher for the opposing team still bothers me, because come on. It's Justin Verlander.
Well, it turns out that I shouldn't have worried, because he looked just terrible. He retired both Manny Machado and Jimmy Paredes to start the game, but it took him 15 pitches to do so. Adam Jones only saw two pitches, but that's more than acceptable when it leads to a bomb over the left field fence. Adam's 15th dinger of the year gave the O's a 1-0 lead.
Though he still threw a lot of pitches in the second and third innings, Verlander had two 1-2-3 innings and it looked like he might be settling in. False! He completely fell apart in the fourth inning, leaving with six runs surrendered and only two outs. Three straight singles loaded the bases, and with one out J.J. Hardy doubled down the right field line to knock in two. Bobby Dickerson got a little too excited and waved in Chris Davis, who had been on first base. He was thrown out with room to spare thanks to a great relay and a bad send.
That out felt like it might be a momentum killer, but it was not. After Verlander clearly pitched around Travis Snider to get to Jonathan Schoop, Schoop made him pay. He hit a laser to left field that landed just inside the foul poul, a beautiful Earl Weaver Special.
Verlander stayed in to try and get the third out but instead gave up a double to Chris Parmelee and an RBI single by Machado. After that he was finally pulled from the game, his final pitching line being 3 2/3 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 1 BB, 4 K, 2 HR.
Miguel Gonzalez's Short Day
Miguel Gonzalez pitched just five innings, which is disappointing. But he really didn't have too bad of a game, and I have to think that at least part of his short day was due to the fact that a few pitchers in the bullpen hadn't seen any action since before the All-Star break. And given his recent troubles, I'm not going to be too upset about MiGo's 5 IP, 2 R effort.
The first two innings for Gonzalez were about as effortless as you'll see. He needed just six pitches in the first inning and nine in the second to retire the first six batters he faced. It looked like it was going to be a breeze of a game for him at that point, but he struggled mightily in the third inning, though he held the Tigers to just one run. The first three batters that he saw in the inning reached base via two singles and a walk, although thankfully the leadoff man was picked off at first by Matt Wieters.
After Ian Kinsler flew out for the first out (and was tossed out of the game for smashing his bat into the ground), Anthony Gose singled in the Tigers' first run of the game. Yoenis Cespedes flied out to end the inning, but Gonzalez had thrown 30 pitches and didn't look quite right for the rest of the game. He faced just four batters in the fourth, and in the fifth inning he gave up two hits and a walk, which led to one more run.
At that point the O's had a 7-2 lead and Gonzalez had thrown 90 pitches. Under different circumstances I definitely think that he could have pitched one more inning, but with multiple high-pitch innings and the fact that neither Chaz Roe nor Darren O'Day had pitched since before the break, MiGo came out after five. His final line was: 5 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 4 K.
The Rusty Orioles Bullpen
Thanks to the All-Star Break, a few pitchers in the bullpen haven't pitched in awhile, specifically Chaz Roe and Darren O'Day. Roe was last in a game July 11th, and O'Day on July 10th.
Pop quiz! The Orioles used three pitchers over the final four innings of today's game: Chaz Roe, Brian Matusz, and Darren O'Day. One of those pitchers gave up one run, the other two gave up zero. Who gave up the run? If you guessed Matusz, you win! If you didnt guess Matusz, it is probably your first Orioles game of the year.
That's not to say they were all good, as they were all definitley shaking off the rust (although Matusz just pitched Friday). Roe looked shaky, with four hits allowed in two innings. Matusz pitched the eighth inning and retired the first two batters just to excite us, then gave up three straight singles, the third being of the RBI variety. And All-Star Darren O'Day closed out the game in the ninth, but gave up a hit and a walk before ending the game by hilariously catching a pop up in foul territory that required him to call off Machado.
Curing those RISP Blues
The MASN broadcast today showed a sad graphic with the teams hitting the lowest in the month of July with runners in scoring position. The Orioles were the worst of the worst with just an .077 batting average in the month. Ouch! Though I doubt many of us knew that exact number, we have all been painfully aware of how terrible they have been at knocking in runs over this rough patch of baseball. Well, that all changed tonight.
The O's got their first chance to hit with RISP in the fourth inning, and they took advantage of it, silencing the jokers in the game thread. With runners on first and second and no outs, Chris Davis lined a single to make the Orioles 1-for-1 with RISP. It was a hollow victory though, because no runs scored. Then Matt Wieters flew out (1-for-2), but Hardy picked him up with a double (2-for-3). Two batters later with Hardy at third, Schoop's homer made the Orioles 3-for-4, and then in the same inning Machado singled with Parmelee at second to give them 4-for-5.
For the whole game they went 6-for-10 with RISP, including a two-run single by Parmelee in eighth inning to tack on the 8th and 9th runs of the night.
With the win today, the Orioles have won their first series since sweeping the Indians June 26-28. After an off day tomorrow, the O's continue their road trip with three games against the first-place Yankees. On Tuesday Wei-Yin Chen will face Nathan Eovaldi at 7 p.m.