Another solid outing from an Orioles starting pitcher and two home runs help the Birds beat Boston 4-2 at Camden Yards on Saturday. The O’s have now won yet another series against an AL East foe. Life is good in Birdland
The Orioles came into this game on a stretch of impressive starting pitching performances. Going back to Wednesday, the O’s had seen Ubaldo Jimenez throw 7.2 scoreless innings, Wade Miley deliver eight frames of one-run ball, and then Dylan Bundy twirl seven glorious goose eggs; all on consecutive nights. While Jayson Aquino wasn’t quite as pristine on Saturday, he was still darn good.
In his first career major league start, the 24-year-old Aquino allowed only two runs on six hits, three walks and two strikeouts over six innings. The lefty’s lone blemish was a two-run homer by Jackie Bradley Jr. in the third inning.
The round-tripper came off of a badly hung slider in the middle of the plate. You could make an argument that it should have only been a solo bomb. Moments earlier, Xander Bogaerts reached on a single to right field, but it was the result of some awkward footwork from Johnathan Schoop, who stepped to his right as the ball was hit rather than to the left, where the ball actually ended up.
Apart from that, Aquino did a nice job. There were no clean innings, but he kept the Boston lineup off balance. The southpaw doesn’t have electric stuff, to be sure. His fastball topped out at 90 mph and his slider is more loopy than it is biting, but it worked. As Dan Duquette explained prior to the game, Aquino is your classic “crafty lefty”. What he lacks in “stuff” he makes up for in the pure number of pitch-types he can throw effectively. It’s not going to be sexy, but Aquino can get guys out.
“He has so much movement on his balls” - Caleb Joseph on Aquino’s pitches, we assume.
Meanwhile, the O’s bats were having a little trouble squaring up knuckleballer Steven Wright. Going into the fourth inning, they were still without a run, but Wright wasn’t missing many bats. Baltimore had three hits and no strikeouts, yet they just couldn’t cash in.
But Wright wouldn’t survive that fourth inning. Mark Trumbo led off with a loud out to left field. Chris Davis followed with a long double off of the scoreboard in right field. And then rookie sensation Trey Mancini tied things up by launching a 74-mph fastball into the Boston bullpen. Mancini has now faced Wright three times in his career and has two home runs.
Jonathan Schoop made it back-to-back home runs with a long ball of his own. The second baseman was fooled by a knuckleball, shifting much of his weight to his front foot far too early, but he kept his hands back just long enough, allowing him to wait on the pitch before launching it into the left field stands.
Play that back (to back). #Birdland pic.twitter.com/gUqJzzCbAB— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) April 23, 2017
But wait, there’s more! Following a J.J. Hardy fly out, Caleb Joseph doubled to the right-center gap. A Craig Gentry single moved Joseph over to third. And then Adam Jones put an end to Wright’s evening by singling to right field on a perfectly executed hit-and-run to make it 4-2 Orioles.
Heath Hembree relieved Wright and put an end to Boston’s nightmare fourth inning. The final line for the starter: 3.2 innings, four runs on nine hits, two home runs, no walks, no strikeouts. The 32-year-old now owns an 8.66 ERA on the season and may not be in the Red Sox rotation much long at this rate.
As bad as Wright was, Hembree was equally fantastic. The hard-throwing righty gave Boston 3.1 scoreless innings while striking out five Orioles and allowing just one hit and one walk. One can imagine his 95 mph heat looked even faster after the lineup faced Wright’s knuckleball, but there is no denying that Hembree was impressive.
Similarly, Mychal Givens was a standout for the Baltimore bullpen. The submarine-fireballer put together perfect seventh and eighth innings, striking out two in the process. Givens even showed off his shortstop background by making two impressive plays in the field. That’s where those invaluable PFPs in Spring Training come in handy.
Donnie Hart and Darren O’Day followed Givens to take care of the ninth inning. Brad Brach was likely unavailable as he had pitched in each of the previous three games. Hart got the first two outs before plunking Marco Hernandez. O’Day then came in to retire Bogaerts on one pitch and earn the easiest save of his career.
There was nothing done in regards to Manny Machado’s controversial slide on Friday. Dustin Pedroia did not play. Schoop got hit in the thigh by a pitch and Hernandez was hit in the back, but both were clearly accidental. Imagine that. Grown adults keeping their cool while at work.
The four runs scored by the offense tonight was the most they have put across the plate since Sunday, when they had 11 against Toronto. Somehow, someway the O’s have won four in a row while scoring just 10 total runs. Wow.
Kevin Gausman (1-1, 7.23 ERA) is on the mound tomorrow in the series finale against Boston as the O’s look for the sweep. First pitch is set for 1:35 p.m. at Camden Yards. The Red Sox plan to counter with Eduardo Rodriguez (0-1, 4.76 ERA).
Who was the Most Birdland Player for Saturday, April 22nd?
This poll is closed
Jayson Aquino (W, 6 IP, 2 R, 3 BB, 2 SO)
Trey Mancini (1-for-4, 2-run homer)
Jonathan Schoop (2-for-3, game-winning homer)
Mychal Givens (H, 2 IP, 2 SO, slick fielding)