They did it! In their final game of April, the Orioles won a series at home. Kevin Gausman powered through a tough start, the bullpen was steady enough behind him and the offense used the home run to help the O’s beat the Tigers 5-3 at Camden Yards on Sunday afternoon and take two of three games from the visitors.
Trey Mancini wasted no time in getting the Birds on the board. The Baltimore left fielder led off the bottom of the first inning with a solo home run into about the fifth row of the left field bleachers.
Another long ball in the bottom of the second inning added to the home team’s lead. Joey Rickard got on base with a single ahead of a line drive DONG to center field by Pedro Alvarez, who was only added to the lineup after Danny Valencia was a late injury scratch. That would prove to be quite a useful change for manager Buck Showalter.
Meanwhile, Gausman was laboring through four scoreless innings for the Orioles. The righty got into three-ball counts against seven of the first 14 hitters he faced. In that time, he walked two, struck out three and allowed two hits.
The only run that the O’s starter gave up came on a solo home run to begin the fifth inning. He came close to allowing another in the third inning on a double by Jose Iglesias but an expertly executed relay from Anthony Santander to Jace Peterson to Caleb Joseph nabbed the runner, Victor Reyes, who hesitated around third base and was thrown out going back to the bag.
Other than that, he didn’t have much trouble, despite the elevated pitch count, until the very end of his afternoon. In the sixth inning, Gausman loaded the bases with two outs before he was replaced by Brad Brach.
It was interesting to see Showalter turn to Brach so early in the game. Has Brach been officially demoted? Or, on the contrary, did Showalter want his best reliever to pitch in the biggest situation and therefore opted for Brach? Whatever the case, the right-handed reliever struck out John Hicks on five pitches to end the threat.
The O’s padded their advantage in the bottom of the inning. Santander singled to lead off the frame and Rickard followed with a walk. A Craig Gentry single a few batters later plated Santander to make it a 4-1 game.
However, it wasn’t all positive for Brach. He returned to the mound in the seventh inning and had some serious struggles. He managed to strike out the side but, prior to doing so, he gave up a single to Dixon Machado and a double apiece to Jeimer Candelario and Niko Goodrum, scoring two runs and drawing the Tigers within a run of the Birds.
Mychal Givens and Darren O’Day held the Detroit offense from there. Givens had a perfect eighth inning and O’Day was flawless in the ninth for his second save of the season.
Alvarez did provide some insurance in the bottom of the eighth with his second DONG of the afternoon. He smashed it off of the railing on top of the out-of-town scoreboard in right field. At first, it appeared the ball was in play and Alvarez would have to settle for a triple, but the umpiring crew quickly realized it was good enough for a round tripper.
Stop us if you've heard this one before... Pedro Álvarez has a two-homer game! pic.twitter.com/NkCi8A8iNd— Orioles on MASN (@masnOrioles) April 29, 2018
The performance of Alvarez coupled with the struggles of Valencia makes for an interesting conversation as Mark Trumbo is set to return from the disabled list on Tuesday. Is Valencia headed for a DL stint? Will he be cut outright? Showalter did reveal after the game that Luis Sardinas will go on the DL, which makes the spot for Trumbo immediately available.
The Orioles are now off to the west coast to begin a six-game round trip. The first stop will be Anaheim. The O’s and Angels start a three-game series on Tuesday night at 10:07 p.m. ET. Alex Cobb (0-3, 13.11 ERA) will look to finally get his 2018 season on track. Los Angeles is expected to counter with superstar rookie Shohei Ohtani (2-1, 4.43 ERA), but a minor ankle injury has put that into doubt.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for Sunday, April 29th, 2018?
This poll is closed
Kevin Gausman (win, 5.2 innings, 1 run, four strikeouts)
Pedro Alvarez (two home runs, three RBI)
Craig Gentry (game-winning RBI)
Brad Brach (got Gausman out of a jam)
Mychal Givens/Darren O’Day (shut down the Tigers in the 8th and 9th)