Coming into this game, the Orioles were hurting. They’d given up 38 runs in the last four games, and as Mike Bordick and Jim Hunter reminded us before the first pitch, their staff are league bottom dwellers in wins (T-23rd), innings pitched (T-25th), runs allowed (2nd most), and home runs allowed (most). Andrew Cashner has been something of a bright spot, but as Bordick pointed out, the big guy isn’t the swing-and-miss pitcher he used to be.
Well, that made it all the more fun to stomp the White Sox behind a lights-out performance by the staff. Cashner went 7 innings, his longest start of the year, giving up one run on 100 pitches, 64 of them strikes. His fastball consistently hit 95 tonight, and he dotted in the breaking stuff with aplomb. Paul Fry dominated in the eighth, and Gabriel Ynoa closed things out in the ninth with no drama. Having the offense tack on nine runs on four homers while getting web-gems from Richie Martin, Jonathan Villar, Dwight Smith, Jr., and Trey Mancini (yes, Trey Mancini) didn’t hurt, either.
Things got busy in the first four innings. The first was dicey for Cashner, as Yoan Moncada led off with a single and José Abreu walked on a slider that bit too soon. With runners on first and second, Manny Machado bro-in-law Yonder Alonso hit a sharp grounder toward the right of the infield, but a diving Richie Martin saved a run to make the putout. “Where’s the Beef?” Wellington Castillo drove the ball deep to right, but a hustling Mancini made a great catch to end the inning.
The O’s wasted a leadoff Jonathan Villar double in the bottom of the first, and I feared it would be one of those nights.
Then, for the second inning in a row, Cashner let the leadoff man on, this time with a single by weekend callup Nicky Delmonico. Delmonico advanced when Ryan Cordell got jammed on a slider (I get a little queasy every time Bordick says “nubber”), then Cashner struck out Yolmer Sánchez out on a high fastball. Cash looked like he was about to put away Adam Engel, but Engel drove a ball deep to left… uh-oh. And yet! Dwight Smith, Jr. leapt up and snatched the ball back out of the stands. 0-0.
The O’s took the lead in the second, but they squandered a big chance to do more. After Joey Rickard got aboard with a single, newly-minted contact hitter Chris Davis looped one up the middle. The CF Engel made an embarrassingly bad throw over the head of third baseman Moncada (I’m sorry, but it was), a two-bag error that allowed Rickard to score. 1-0 O’s. Nova’s command appeared to have deserted him at that point, as he walked Sucre on four pitches. Flexing his new bunting technique, Richie Martin loaded the bases with no outs, but Villar hit a soft comebacker to the mound for a double play at the plate. Mancini grounded out, and the rally was snuffed.
The third went more smoothly for Cashner thanks to a flyout, strikeout, and another web-gem by Mancini! Cashner looked good tonight, but the defense made him look a whole lot better. On a fly ball off the bat of José Abreu, Mancini had to sprint back on a diagonal, then leap up in the air and grab the ball backhanded. UZR be damned; this man can do it all!
MASN viewers were treated to another food segment in the bottom of the third, as Hunter and Bordick stuffed down a pastrami sandwich. Good grief. Then Renato Núñez turned on a changeup and buried it 421 feet into the left-field stands. Back in the dugout, Dwight Smith, Jr. doused him with a cupful of water to the face—the new pies, maybe? The next batter, Ruiz dumped a 91 mph high-and-outside fastball to left for a single. Then Davis, who’s apparently awesome now, drove pretty much the same pitch into the left-field seats. Not just the oppo-field home run, but also the celebration in the dugout gave me major flashbacks to 2014.
The O’s struck even bigger in the fourth. After Villar poked a single the other way, Mancini drove a rocket into left, and Dwight Smight, Jr. launched a moon shot onto the flag court. Boom! 7-0 Orioles. After Núñez struck out on a tricky Nova slider, I thought maybe the fireworks were over, but Ruiz walked and Rickard hit a “paint scraper” (oh, these Bordickisms) that just cleared the left-field fence.
Ivan Nova’s stuff had plenty of movement on it tonight, but his command never showed up, and Rick Renteria pulled him for righty Carson Fulmer in the fifth. Fulmer immediately plunked Sucre with a fastball on the elbow. It looked painful, but Sucre stayed in. Richie Martin had a nice at-bat, fouling off eight or so pitches before hitting into a fielder’s choice he legged out with impressive speed. After Villar walked, Mancini popped out. Josh Osich came on to face DSJ, who grounded out to end the inning.
Cashner seemed to get better as the game went on, pitching a three-up three-down fourth and fifth. The Sox finally got to him in the sixth, when a speedy Moncada launched a rocket down the first-base line for a leadoff triple and scored on a Tim Anderson single to right. 9-1 Orioles. Still, Cashner held steady, locating a great changeup to Abreu for a swinging strikeout and getting a double play off the bat of Alonso. He came back out for the seventh, looking like he had plenty in the tank still. Beef got aboard on a Ruiz throwing error, but Cash struck out Delmonico on a nasty changeup, and got Cordell and Sánchez to fly out.
For once in recent memory, the Orioles bullpen looked pretty watertight. Paul Fry pitched a lights-out eighth, and newcomer Gabriel Ynoa closed things out in the ninth, his second appearance in two games.
Everything was working for the Orioles tonight. Enjoy the win, Camden Chatters! Let’s see if we can keep the win streak going tomorrow.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for 4/23?
This poll is closed
Andrew Cashner (7 IP, 5 hits, 1 run, 5 SO)
Trey Mancini (1-for-5, run, TWO web gems)
Chris Davis (2-for-4, 2 RBIs, hitting like it’s 2013 again)
Joey Rickard (2-for-4, 2 RBIs, paint scraper)