Despite looking offensively inept for most of the night, the Orioles topped the Angles 3-1 in Anaheim on Saturday. The three-run ninth inning home run from Matt Wieters on his 30th birthday was the difference.
Neither starter came into tonight on a particularly hot streak. The Orioles Kevin Gausman just had his worst performance of the season; a five-inning outing where he allowed four runs on 10 hits, two walks and one strikeout against Detroit.
The Angels Matt Shoemaker had been one of the worst regular starters in the bigs through the first month-and-a-half of the season, touting an 8.49 ERA over seven starts with an opponent batting average of .328.
This game turned all of that on its head as both righties pitched into the seventh inning, at least, and the score stayed knotted at 0-0 for a good portion of the evening.
Good Gaus, bad bats
Gausman got into trouble right away as Los Angeles started their night with a walk to Yunel Escobar and a single from Kole Calhoun in the top of the first inning. After a Mike Trout ground out, the hosts had two runners in scoring position and just one out. The next batter, Albert Pujols, grounded to Ryan Flaherty who fielded the ball and gunned down Escobar at the plate. C.J. Cron grounded out to end the threat moments later.
It was regularly a balancing act for the O's righty as he faced the minimum of three batters in an inning only twice, scattering eight hits over 6.2 innings of work. He did regain the hard fastball, sitting between 94 and 98 mph, that he was missing against the Tigers.
But the Birds bats just could not give him any offensive support while he was in the game, which is becoming a recurring theme for the young starter. Against Shoemaker, the Orioles lineup remained hitless through the games first 4.2 innings before a Matt Wieters double broke up the perfect game. Other than that, there was little they could do against the starter as Shoemaker threw 7.1 scoreless innings, striking out a career-high 12 batters and not walking one.
Angels break through
Though the offensive chances were scarce for both teams, the Angels were the more threatening side most of the evening. They had runners reach base in every inning except for the second. Finally, in the seventh frame, they got onto the board.
With Gausman still pitching and two outs already recorded, Gregorio Petit doubled to left center field with a ball that hit the base of the fence. Petit, the ninth hitter in the lineup, had an annoying good game as he went a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate with a walk and eventually scored the Angels only run of the night.
Escobar drove in Petit three pitches later, lacing a single into right center field. That would be the last batter faced by Gausman, who was replaced by Vance Worley, who only got into more trouble, loading the bases. But Brad Brach came on to get the final out of the inning. That closed the book on Gausman. It was another nice performance for him, but there was just not enough early support to get him the win.
O's offensive outage early on
There was nothing good to mention here until the glorious ninth inning. (We will get to that in a second.) After a game on Friday where they seemed to be hitting anything and everything, Saturday was the complete opposite. Wieters' double was the only extra base hit for the visitors prior to the ninth. Altogether, the team had just three hits to that point as Ryan Flaherty singled in the sixth and Adam Jones got a knock in the seventh.
Baltimore did plenty of striking out though. As a unit, they had 13 K's. Manny Machado had an especially tough time as he got strike three on three occasions. Joey Rickard, Chris Davis, Pedro Alvarez and Jonathan Schoop joined the shortstop in striking out more than once.
Best. 30th. Birthday. EVER!!
But of course, there is a reason they give you 27 outs. You play until you get them all and the O's needed every single one.
The ninth inning started off with a Machado pop out and a Jones ground out. It felt like it was all over, but that's when the Birds put their rally caps on. Two out ral-ly! *clap clap clapclapclap*!!
Davis singled up the middle, bringing up the American League leader in home runs, Mark Trumbo. After a nice six-pitch at-bat, Trumbo walked and Nolan Reimold pinch-ran for him. Up stepped the birthday boy, Wieters. He was the only Oriole to see second base all night up to this point. He would see it one more time.
Poor Angels closer Joe Smith served up a 1-0, 89 mph sinker up in the zone. Wieters used every fiber of his being to smash that pitch to left center field and out of the park for a three-run DONG!! 3-1 good guys!
That was all southpaw Zach Britton needed to close it down. It was a rocky ninth inning and it was slightly umpire-assisted but a win is a win. He walked Petit, struck out Escobar (thanks, ump!) and then forced Calhoun and Trout into a pair of ground outs to finish things up! Huzzah!
It was also Rickard's birthday tonight. He turned 25! Woo, now you can rent a car, I think!
The weird baseball start times continue as the Orioles wrap up their three-game set with the Angels. First pitch is set for 3:35 p.m. ET at The Big A. Ubaldo Jimenez (2-4, 5.60 ERA) is on the bump for the Birds. The Halos will counter with righty Jered Weaver (3-3, 5.76). "What a pitching matchup!!!" That's what you would have said if it was 2010 still.