After needing 16 innings to get a win, Baltimore really needed only two this time. Asher Wojciechowski was excellent again, the O’s scored six runs in the second to put the game away early, and it all added up to a 9-3 win in Anaheim Friday night.
While the Orioles alternated between good and bad Thursday, they had no interest in following such a script tonight. Baltimore looked like the team that’s chasing an American League playoff berth, overwhelming an Angels team that needed to find a pitching answer after Thursday’s marathon - and never found it.
It started innocently enough, with Jonathan Villar (2-for-3, three runs) getting hit by a pitch, stealing second and moving up first on a fly ball by Trey Mancini and then a sacrifice fly by Anthony Santander for a 1-0 lead in the first inning, but Baltimore picked up the pace in the second.
Jace Peterson ripped a single to right and stole second, and Chris Davis walked. The Angels, forced to try Triple-A call-up Nick Tropeano on the mound after burning through projected starter Griffin Canning in Thursday’s game, needed innings from their emergency starter and didn’t pull him despite the growing danger.
It got worse, quickly. Stevie Wilkerson grounded to first, but Matt Thaiss bobbled it for too long to get Peterson, making it 2-0. Villar drew a quick walk, and Mancini hit a hard ball down the third-base line that David Fletcher fielded, but not in time to prevent the bases from loading up.
Santander (3-for-4, three RBI) followed with a single to right, scoring Davis and Villar and making it 4-0. The beleaguered Tropeano then hung a pitch to Renato Nunez (2-for-4, three RBI) that he scorched to right for a three-run home run, making it 7-0 in the blink of an eye.
It was more than enough support for Wojciechowski, who was sensational in his last start against Boston and nearly as good tonight. Wojciechowski pitched with a touch that would make Greg Maddux blush, spotting fastballs and throwing sharp breaking balls that had the Angel hitters flailing at the plate all game long.
He went seven innings - his second outing in a row in which he reached the eighth - and allowed three hits, two runs and one walk while striking out six. Perhaps the most impressive number, though, was 64 - the amount of strikes he threw in 100 pitches. Wojciechowski was never in trouble, and hardly ever behind. He retired the first 11 batters of the game, and didn’t allow a baserunner until Shohei Ohtani’s triple in the fourth.
He wasn’t perfect, however, leaving one mistake in particular over the plate in the fifth, which Thaiss drove to right for a two-run home run that made it 7-2.
Even then, the Orioles weren’t about to let their win slip away. Wojciechowski held the Halos from there, escaping another L.A. threat in the sixth when he fanned Upton to strand Mike Trout at third base.
Later, the offense stepped up again. This time, it was Mancini (2-for-5, two RBI) delivering the blow, a two-run home run over the scoreboard in right field that was Trey’s second ninth-inning home run in as many nights and good for a 9-2 lead.
The Angels rounded out the scoring when Upton homered to right off of Evan Phillips, bringing the score at last to 9-3.
This wasn’t thrilling, per se, but boy, was it satisfying. Wojciechowski’s outing was an excellent showing for a team that’s getting thin in the rotation, and the Orioles beat the Angels in all categories. They ran wild for the second straight night, they jumped on L.A.’s emergency pitching, and they even beat the Angels in the field. A catch by Peterson in which he raced from second base back almost into right field to take a hit away from Luis Rengifo was one of the gems of the night.
Now the Orioles are a win from taking the series. A 16-inning, back-and-forth game is fun, but as Baltimore showed, being in control from the opening pitch is pretty good, too.
Who was the most Birdland player for Friday, July 26, 2019?
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Asher Wojciechowski (7 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 6 Ks, win)
Trey Mancini (2-for-5, HR, 2 RBI)
Renato Nunez (2-for-4, HR, 3 RBI)
Anthony Santander (3-for-4, 3 RBI)
Jonathan Villar (2-for-3, 3 R)