The Orioles are living on the edge and it feels like they need a win every time they take the field. They got one today thanks to a great game from starting pitcher Kevin Gausman, key hits from our friend Steve Pearce, and some fantastic defense led by (of course) Manny Machado.
The end result was a 5-0 win that kept the Orioles in playoff position for another day and gave the O’s a 2-3 record on their brief five-game road trip.
Breaking News: Orioles starter pitches seven innings
After back-to-back games in which the starting pitchers combined to pitch 5.1 innings, the Orioles and their bullpen sorely needed a break. Gausman gave them just that with seven scoreless innings.
The biggest chance that the Yankees had against Gausman came in the fourth inning. If not for a TOOTBLAN and some excellent defense, the Orioles surely would have fallen behind.
The inning started with back-to-back singles from Gary Sanchez and Mark Teixeira. Teixera’s hit was a grounder just between J.J. Hardy and Jonathan Schoop into right field. Sanchez took off for third base, which was a bad idea. Pearce, who was playing right field today, threw to Machado who got Sanchez on a nifty swipe tag for the out.
Machado was in a strange position and I wondered if Steve’s bum arm is the reason. Either way, the play worked. Later in the inning, with runners on first and second still only one out, Machado made a nice diving play and threw out the runner at second.
Gausman followed the fourth with two strong innings before his final inning, which also featured some nifty defense. With one out, Brian McCann hit a ball to right center that "centerfielder" Nolan Reimold got back into the infield so quickly that what looked like a double off the bat was a single.
After Aaron Judge hit a sharp line drive to left field for the second out, Manny Magic struck again. Ronald Torreyes hit a sharp ground ball down the line that Manny made a fantastic play on. Here, let me show you:
Swoon! And with that, Gausman’s day was over. And what a good day it was. His final pitching line was 7 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 K.
Contributions from friends old and new
CC Sabathia started for the Yankees today and for much of the game the O’s batters looked completely clueless against him. Through the first five innings Sabathia allowed only three base runners on two singles and walk, none of which came in the same inning.
Then in the sixth inning, Steve Pearce did what he was brought to Baltimore to do: hit lefties. He was already 1-for-2 in the game when he came to the plate as the first batter in the sixth. Pearce hit a bomb to left field that broke the 0-0 tie and left Orioles fans across Birdland exclaiming, "In Play, Steve(s)!"
Pearce was responsible for the next two runs as well. Sabathia started the seventh inning but would not survive. With one out and Jonathan Schoop on first, Nolan Reimold hit a slow grounder to second base. Starlin Castro appeared to be distracted by Schoop running in his line of vision and the ball took a weird hop away from him, allowing the runners to be safe.
Sabathia then walked Hyun Soo Kim to load the bases on pitches that weren’t very close. With lefty killer Steve Pearce coming to the plate once again, Joe Girardi opted to pull Sabathia from the game.
Steve Pearce cares not for your maneuverings, Giradi! Sure, against Sabathia he probably would have hit a grand slam. Instead, against righty Adam Warren Pearce simply singled back up the middle to knock in two more runs.
Rumor has it that Buck Showalter lobbied for the Orioles to re-sign Steve Pearce in the offseason, but Dan Duquette opted to trade for Mark Trumbo instead and let Steve walk. With Pearce getting all the glory so far in the game, Trumbo could not let people forget about him!
Trumbo had not looked good against Sabathia, striking out twice and hitting into a double play. But that was no the case against new Yankee pitcher Ben Heller, who started the eighth inning. With Machado on base from his third hit of the day, Trumbo hit a bomb to left-center field, his 40th of the year. That gave the Orioles a 5-0 lead.
Prior to Trumbo’s dinger, Brad Brach had been warming up. But with somewhat comfortable lead, Buck Showalter turned to our old friend and new-again Oriole, Tommy Hunter. Hunter had successful but pedestrian outing. It’s good to see Tommy again.
Closer Zach Britton, in need of a little work, pitched a quick 1-2-3 ninth inning to end the game.
The Orioles head home for a six-game set that starts with three games against the first place Blue Jays. A sweep by the Jays would be a nail in the coffin for the division, while a sweep by the Orioles could put them in a tie for first depending on what happens with the second-place Red Sox.
It would behoove them to play as well the next three days as they did today.