They got it done. With Wednesday night’s 10-5 win over the Blue Jays, the Orioles achieved two firsts of their 2018 season: their first series sweep at home, and their first sweep of a three-game series, period. Their only other undefeated series came in two games against the Mets at Citi Field back in early June.
This was the sort of series that many envisioned for this team back when the season was just getting underway. The pitching had moments of brilliance, like their shutout in game one, but the offense was the real star, scoring 29 runs on 41 hits across the three-game set. In the series conclusion, they got a ton of help from the Toronto defense as well.
However, the sweep seemed to be in danger during the early moments of this game. Alex Cobb started on the bump for the Birds with hopes of capping what had been an outstanding month of August for him individually. It didn’t work out that way.
Justin Smoak put the Jays up early with a solo home run in the top of the first inning. Kevin Pillar doubled the advantage with a one-run dinger of his own in the second. Later in that same frame, two more runs came home. First, a Devon Travis double drove in Russell Martin, who had reached base on a walk. Then Billy McKinney knocked in Aledmys Diaz with a sacrific fly to left field after Diaz had singled to get aboard. Just like that, the O’s were in a 4-0 hole.
Trey Mancini woke up the Baltimore bats in the fourth inning with a lead-off home run on the first pitch that he saw. But it was Adam Jones that made this into a game worth watching an inning later. After Austin Wynns, Craig Gentry and Mancini reached base on a trio of singles, the Cap10 brought them all home with his second career grand slam. In a season of negatives, that will be a highlight worth reliving one day.
The potential for a sweep was alive once again, thriving even. On top of that, it looked like Cobb had a good chance of finally recording a win at Camden Yards. But it was not to be. The O’s righty promptly gave up his third home run of the game, this one off the bat of Devon Travis. That would prove to be the final blow of Cobb’s evening. He finished with a line of 5.2 innings, five runs, eight hits, two walks, and four strikeouts.
It became a battle of the bullpens, as well as defenses, after that point. Most nights, that is a battle that this Orioles team loses, but everything went in their favor for the remainder of this game.
Sean Gilmartin, Miguel Castro, Paul Fry and Mychal Givens combined to toss 3.1 shoutout innings, with varying degrees of ease, to finish off the victory. Gilmartin earned the win, Castro and Fry were given a hold apiece and Givens notched his fifth save of the season.
Castro bailed out Gilmartin in the seventh after the lefty allowed a walk and a single with two outs. Then it was Fry who left a runner stranded in the eighth inning after Castro left the game following a Curtis Granderson single. Finally, Givens shut the door in the ninth inning after Fry loaded the bases with a base hit and a pair of walks. It was a real team effort from the relief crew.
Meanwhile, the O’s offense was punishing the Jays ‘pen and their fielders for a plethora of mistakes.
In the bottom of the sixth, John Andreoli reached base on an infield single to the shortstop, stole second base and came in to score on a base hit by Wynns. At this point, Ryan Tepera came on to pitch for Toronto and had a heck of a time finding the strike zone. The right-hander walked Gentry and then threw two wild pitches while facing Mancini that moved Wynns from second to third and then allowed him to score, giving the O’s a 7-5 lead.
But the Orioles were not done there. They added three more runs for good measure in the eighth inning. Andreoli doubled. Wynns followed with a sacrifice bunt attempt that was fielded cleanly by Jays pitcher Ken Giles. But Giles never set his feet and made a wide throw to first base, scoring Andreoli and advancing Wynns to second base. After a Jonathan Villar single, Wynns scored on an error by catcher-turned-third-baseman Russell Martin on a fairly routine bouncer. Jones put a cap on the scoring with a single into left field to bring in Villar.
The only Oriole to go hitless was Renato Nunez (0-for-4). Chris Davis raised his batting average again (now .173) with a 1-for-5 evening. Jones had five RBI. The entire lineup struck out just five times. It was a good night in Birdland. They have 40 wins now, and we can feel more secure that, while they are terrible, they are unlikely to go down as the worst team of all time. That’s worth something.
The O’s now head to Kansas City, where they will have an off day on Thursday before beginning a three-game series against the Royals on Friday at 8:15 p.m. ET. Buck Showalter has not announced any starters for that series, but the home team will send 23-year-old righty Brad Keller (6-5, 3.33 ERA) to the mound for game one.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for Wednesday, August 29, 2018?
This poll is closed
Mychal Givens (save, left bases loaded)
Adam Jones (2-for-5, grand slam, five RBI)
Austin Wynns (2-for-3, three runs, go-ahead RBI)
Trey Mancini (ANOTHER home run)