The Orioles returned to Baltimore on Friday to host the White Sox in what was a wild but winning night of action. It wasn’t how Buck Showalter wrote it up, but the Birds got it done when it mattered most.
Just when you thought the Orioles might get back to playing normal, run-of-the-mill baseball, the top of the first inning brought a very unfortunate and strange development. And with the way that the last week of baseball has gone, it really shouldn’t have been surprising.
With two outs, Jose Abreu hit a hard-hit line drive that went right up the middle and ricocheted off of Wade Miley’s left throwing wrist. Buck Showalter and trainer Brian Ebel came out and seemed to convince Miley to call it a night, but the gritty left-hander wanted to stay in the game and did. That is, until after the very next pitch.
The next batter, Avisail Garcia roped another liner that went right back to Miley, hitting him on the upper thigh for a single on what would ultimately be the last pitch of the game for Miley. With the wrist seemingly already swelling, he was escorted off the field with Showalter and Ebel and proceeded to yell a particular word (you can guess) as he headed to the training room.
Gabriel Ynoa would pick up the game, making it two out of three nights in which the Orioles would need an unexpected long-man. You can’t predict baseball!
Exit velocity on first liner by Abreu was 103.3 mph and 102.1 mph on liner by Avasail Garcia. Again Ynoa replaces Miley in top of first.— Steve Melewski (@masnSteve) May 5, 2017
In what began a game that was more like the survival of the wild baseballs, the Orioles got a run on a hit-by-pitch in the bottom of the first to kick off the game’s scoring.
After a Mark Trumbo single got the bases loaded, Jonathan Schoop was hit by old friend Miguel Gonzalez to bring in the game’s first run and give Ynoa the early 1-0 lead.
The 23-year-old right-hander settled down throughout the next pair of innings and provided Showalter with much-needed quality pitching following Miley’s departure. Even after a two-out Abreu double in the third, Ynoa induced a 6-3 ground ball out to escape the jam and cling to the lead.
In the bottom of the third, Chris Davis did Chris Davis things to extend the lead. On a 2-2 breaking ball, he threw his bat at the plate and launched a solo shot over the wall in center to give the O’s a two-run lead. The shot into the bullpen was Davis’ fourth of the season.
Ynoa faced his toughest jam of the night in the top of the fifth, allowing a pair of two-out singles to set up a runners-on-the-corners situation with Abreu up to the dish. It looked like it could be Ynoa’s time to crumble, but he tossed a perfectly-placed 85 MPH breaking ball low and away to set Abreu down swinging.
If there was any question whether or not he’d sustain the early success throughout the rest of the outing, it was answered with an exclamation mark on that 73rd pitch of the night.
The Orioles lineup continued to get to Gonzalez in the bottom of the fifth, but it couldn’t capitalize and extend the lead. Trumbo was presented a bases loaded opportunity with a pair of outs, but a first-pitch pop-out to center sent the game to the sixth, 2-0 Orioles.
Showalter and Ebel were out to the mound yet again before Ynoa began the sixth, seemingly checking on some type of right leg discomfort that struck during pre-inning warmup tosses. It was a a quick scare but Ynoa quickly proved he was perfectly OK, mowing down the side 1-2-3 with a pair of strikeouts along the way.
It’s safe to say nobody expected a Ynoa/Gonzalez pitchers duel before this one, but alas that’s exactly what we ended up having on this night. Baseball is weird.
Ynoa left in the seventh after recording two outs and allowing a single, receiving a standing ovation from the crowd at Camden Yards — this was perhaps the most clutch performance of the season and the Orioles couldn’t have asked for a better time to have Ynoa own his best stuff.
Stefan Crichton entered and collected the final out of the inning, giving Ynoa this heck of a final line: 6 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K.
Keep in mind that Ynoa is only 23. It’s early to overreact, but if he can continue to develop, Dan Duquette deserves major credit for his offseason addition.
On the other side, Gonzalez’s return to Oriole Park was just as impressive. He ended up limiting the damage from his former teammates to continue to put zeroes on the scoreboard and mow down batters.
He’d need to be relieved before the seventh inning was over, but he ultimately tossed 6.2 innings of two-run baseball, one very smooth night for the former Oriole.
The White Sox plated one in the eighth inning to tighten the game, but the damage could have been a whole lot worse if Darren O’Day didn’t enter and do a brilliant job in relief of Crichton, who walked the leadoff man. That runner would score, but O’Day settled in and got three important outs to maintain the lead. And as it turns out, those outs would be mighty important.
With the lead intact, the offense provided eighth-inning fireworks against Chicago reliever Michael Ynoa (no relation, no more terrible puns needed) to gain plenty of breathing room.
Joey Rickard knocked in the first run by roping an RBI double down the left field line, a crucial AB followed by a J.J. Hardy grounder that couldn’t be fielded cleanly by White Sox SS Tim Anderson. That made it 4-1 Orioles, clearing way for Brad Brach — not Zach Britton — to wrap up the night’s action.
Brach allowed a pair of weak singles to begin the inning, but piggybacked on the clutch performances of the previous innings and worked out of the jam with three relatively quick outs to end the game.
A run would score to make it 4-2, but an Abreu flyout sent the White Sox to the clubhouse with a loss and put the Orioles in the win column for the 18th time in 2017.
The O’s will send Dylan Bundy to the hill tomorrow for a 7:05 first-pitch.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for Friday, May 5th?
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Gabriel Ynoa (6 scoreless IP)
Chris Davis (3-3, HR)
Joey Rickard (RBI double in 8th)