There were a lot of runs on a lot of hits Saturday night, but the biggest play for the Orioles may have been an out.
It was a slide, in particular, and it was certainly the turning point in Baltimore’s game in Colorado. Keon Broxton broke up a double play in the fourth, giving the Orioles enough life to score four runs and take the lead for good en route to a 9-6 victory over the Rockies at Coors Field.
The Orioles were coming off a stomach-punch loss Friday in which they gave up a three-run lead in the seventh before losing on a walk-off home run in the ninth, and they found the best way to get over the defeat was by taking it out on the baseball. Renato Nunez and Jonathan Villar homered, and the Orioles scored the nine runs on a season-high 17 hits.
Even when staying in the yard, the Orioles did damage. Villar had three hits and finished a triple away from the cycle. Nunez had three hits. Pedro Severino had four hits, raising the surprising catcher’s average to .276.
And yet, while the Orioles were in front most of the way, they didn’t lead the whole game - which is where Broxton came in. Colorado had gone ahead 4-3 on a Nolan Arenado three-run home run when, in the fourth, Broxton led off with a walk. Stevie Wilkerson hit a potential double play grounder to third, but Broxton slid hard (but cleanly) into the bag, breaking up the play and putting a runner on first with one out instead of taking both off with two outs.
Richie Martin followed with a single, and rather than coming up needing to keep the inning alive, starting pitcher Andrew Cashner had one out with two on, and his bunt that resulted in Wilkerson being forced at third was only the second out. With the extra life, Hanser Alberto singled in Martin, and Villar then smacked a Kyle Freeland offering over the left center-field wall for a three-run homer and a 7-4 lead.
This was the same spot the Orioles were in Friday, and it looked like history was repeating itself when “man on fire” Arenado singled in a run in the fifth and Chris Iannetta homered off Miguel Castro in the sixth, making it 7-6.
This time, however, the Orioles sidestepped the potential heartbreak. Trey Mancini walked, Nunez and Severino followed with singles to load the bases in the seventh, and Wilkerson rapped a base hit to score Mancini. Martin grounded to short and Trevor Story threw out Nunez at home, but Dwight Smith Jr., pinch-hitting for Castro, came through with a single that brought in Severino to round out the scoring.
This would have been another tough one to let slip away, particularly with how the game started. Villar doubled in the first and came in on Nunez’s single to left, with left fielder Raimel Tapia making the bad decision to try for home despite the speedy Villar scoring easily. That put Nunez on second, allowing him to score on Severino’s hard single to left and make it 2-0.
Arenado doubled in a run in the bottom half, but Nunez answered with a towering homer to left that made it 3-1 in the third. Colorado was not impressed; Arenado swatted a Cashner pitch over the left-field wall with two out and two on in the bottom half, giving the Rockies the lead for the first time all game.
It wouldn’t last.
This was a complete effort, and it came at a good time. After an embarrassing sweep at the hands of the Yankees in which Gleyber Torres reduced the Orioles’ pitching staff to a punchline, as well as the aforementioned loss Friday, Baltimore picked itself up and mustered a good bounce-back effort that featured hits from throughout the lineup (every starter but Cashner had a hit) and none of the physical and mental errors that have plagued the O’s in recent games.
Even the pitching was good. That might sound strange to say after Cashner submitted a line that included five runs allowed in five innings, but he handled the Rockies’ lineup well with the exception of Story (2-for-5, three runs) and Arenado (3-for-4, five RBI), the big bashers Friday who tried to derail Baltimore’s win again Saturday night.
Those are all-world players - Arenado in particular - and there’s no shame in a pair of the best hitters in baseball having your number. Arenado went 3-for-3 against Cashner and Story was 2-for-3, but the rest of the Rockies went 3-for-17. Cashner couldn’t get everyone out, but he made sure he limited the damage.
Who knows how the Orioles will follow this up. Maybe it’s just a reprieve before another losing skid. But for a night, it was good to see them show some fortitude after a rough day at the yard.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for Sunday, May 26, 2019?
This poll is closed
Jonathan Villar (3-for-5, HR, 3 RBI)
Renato Nunez (3-for-5, HR, 2 RBI)
Pedro Severino (4-for-5, RBI)
Andrew Cashner (5 IP, win)