Do not make any sudden movements. The Orioles starting rotation has now turned in three straight quality starts. We must not scare away this rare beast. Even more rare for the 2018 season has been a good effort by the offense. The O’s got one of those on Wednesday night too as they avoided a sweep at the hands of the Blue Jays with a 5-3 victory. Don’t chase that one away either.
Many of the familiar early patterns that led to the Orioles scoring just seven runs in their first five home games were chased away for at least one night. Jonathan Schoop drove in two runs to triple his season RBI total. Chris Davis went on to get two hits after getting booed in his first at-bat, including one where he appeared to cut down his swing to go against the shift. No, it really happened!
Seven of the nine starting Orioles batters picked up base hits as part of a team effort of 11 hits, including 6-14 hitting with runners in scoring position. That’s a good way to score a few runs, and as long as the pitching is holding it together, it’s a good way to get back in the win column. With Kevin Gausman turning in the quality start and three relievers tossing a scoreless inning apiece, the O’s went into their off day winners.
From the outset, the game did not appear to be following any different script than Monday’s and Tuesday’s games. The Orioles hitters did not pick up a hit through the first three innings, not enough to be justified in panicking but enough that you might have panicked anyway, whether or not you were at the disco at the time.
Because Gausman and the first inning don’t mix, the Orioles trailed early on. It’s just what he does. Throwing fastballs in the 89-91mph range, according to Statcast, Gausman allowed Curtis Granderson to hit a leadoff single. The O’s infield was unable to convert a possible double play grounder, so Justin Smoak stood at first with two outs as Gausman walked Steve Pearce and then served up a single to the pesky Kevin Pillar for a 1-0 Jays lead.
Gausman limited the damage, though, closing out the inning with a strikeout, and he settled down for three innings after that, allowing just one base hit in those innings combined.
It took until the fourth inning for the Orioles offense to do any hitting themselves. Manny Machado broke up the nascent no-hitter before it could go on too long. His buddy Schoop, who heading into the game had been allergic to scoring chances with an 0-13 with runners in scoring position in 2018, got himself off the schneid with a double of his own to drive in the tying run.
The O’s went on to pick up two more runs in the inning to take a 3-1 lead. That included a single from Davis and a Tim Beckham sacrifice fly that scored Pedro Alvarez, who had walked, from third base. Let’s hope this is the beginning of the breakout that the O’s really need.
After the Jays picked up another run in the fifth inning, the O’s offense got back to it in the bottom half, with the first four batters safely reaching base to plate a run, load the bases with no one out, and chase Jays starter Marco Estrada fairly early. The rally started with a double from Chance Sisco. The kid can hit. He was 2-3 on the night, also drawing a walk. Give me that .385 on-base percentage. Give it to me!
With the lineup turned over, leadoff man Trey Mancini drew a walk. That brought up Machado, who sliced a ball down the right field line that deflected off of the glove of a diving Randal Grichuk and into foul territory. Initially, the first base umpire blew this call, ruling it foul, but after a more than four minute replay, the official in New York partially corrected the mistake.
I say partially because this ball should have probably been at least an RBI single that scored Sisco and moved Mancini to third. The ball bounced away from Grichuk. They only gave the Orioles runners one base while overturning the incorrect foul call. That’s life. This ball had a 1% hit chance, so perhaps we shouldn’t be too greedy. A second RBI hit for Schoop is what sent Estrada packing.
Jays reliever Danny Barnes snuffed this bases loaded, nobody out rally without allowing any more runs. Pessimist that I am, I predicted that the Orioles would regret not scoring any more runs there. The Jays did cut the lead to 4-3 on a sixth inning solo homer by Aledmys Diaz, but that was that for their scoring on the night.
The final line for Gausman was three runs allowed on six hits and three walks over six innings. It could be better. The fact that his average fastball was 91.8mph, compared to its average last year of 95.0mph, may be a problem down the road. For tonight, he picked up seven strikeouts and a total of 14 swinging strikes in 106 pitches, which is the sort of thing that might just qualify as competent pitching.
Richard Bleier locked down the seventh inning without allowing a baserunner. The lefty has now pitched in seven of the Orioles 13 games to date and has looked as good as or better than he did last year.
One reason Bleier’s seventh inning was clean was this play by Machado:
The dude just makes it look easy. I love that you can see the hint of a satisfied smile after he makes the play. He knows that was awesome. Don’t try this at home.
Darren O’Day had a scoreless eighth and Brad Brach picked up his third save of the year in a relatively drama-free ninth, although #8 hitter Luke Maile did single to bring the tying run to the plate with one out. No scary contact from there. Game over. The Orioles were back in the win column at last.
An off day awaits the Orioles on Thursday after this win. Mancini is probably looking forward to it more than most. He managed to foul off a pitch entirely off of his middle finger tonight. That sounds painful and I can assure you that it looked painful. He soldiered on in the at-bat and got a base hit for his trouble. X-rays taken later were negative, manager Buck Showalter told Orioles reporters after the game.
Next up for the O’s is a trip to Boston, with a series against the Red Sox starting up on Friday night. Chris Tillman and Eduardo Rodriguez are the scheduled starters for the 7:10 opener.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for April 11, 2018?
This poll is closed
Chris Davis (two hits including one against the shift)
Jonathan Schoop (2-4, tripled his RBI total)
Richard Bleier (has been awesome like every day)
Kevin Gausman (struck out seven, third straight O’s QS)