The Orioles finally picked up win number 50 tonight, and had all of the elements working. They hit. They made plays in the field, The pitchers did their job. The end result was a 5-3 win to kick off the final home series of the year.
Manager Brandon Hyde decided to mix things up with the pitchers and opted to give Richard Bleier his first career start tonight. It was never going to be a traditional start, of course, and I assumed we’d see a parade of four or five relievers trying to piece together nine solid innings. I was wrong, though. It only took two.
Things didn’t go so well at the beginning as Bleier gave up two runs in the top of the first inning courtesy of a couple Kyles. With two outs, Kyle Seager singled to keep the inning going, then Kyle Lewis hit a bullet to left field the landed 399 feet from home plate to give the Mariners a 2-0 lead. Their lead didn’t last long.
Felix Hernandez, who is nearing the end of his fantastic career, just did not have it tonight. The Orioles jumped on him right away, scoring four runs in the bottom of the first inning.
Leadoff batter Jonathan Villar lined a single to right field and Trey Mancini walked, setting the table for Anthony Santander. September has not been kind to Santander so far, with him batting just .176/.200/.338 in the month before today. So it was nice to see him deposit the ball over the fence, just out of the reach of the leaping Mariners center fielder. The Earl Weaver Special put the Orioles ahead 3-2, a lead they never relinquished.
Rio Ruiz came to the plate after Santander and hit a line drive to left field that Shed Long couldn’t get to. Long crashed into the fence and his glasses fell off. He got the ball in as quickly as he could after that as Ruiz landed on second base with a double.
In case you’re imagining a guy whose glasses fell off waving his arms around pathetically trying to find either his glasses or the baseball, that’s not what happened. I guess Shed Long’s eyes aren’t that bad.
After a wild pitch moved Ruiz up to third, Austin Hays made the first out of the inning. But even his ground out was productive and Ruiz ran on contact and scored easily to make the score 4-3.
Bleier pitched a scoreless second inning and was then pulled in favor of the O’s only other pitcher of the night, Aaron Brooks. That’s right, Brooks pitched the final seven innings. Very impressive! His number of the game was one. He gave up just one run on one hit. He walked one and was awarded one win.
Brooks didn’t do it all by himself, though. He had a few key plays behind him that helped secure the win. In fact, the fourth and fifth innings were the Hanser Alberto show. Kyle Lewis started off the fourth inning with a double, then moved to third on a ground out. Austin Nola then smoked a ball back up the middle and Alberto made a sweet diving stop. The runner at third scored, but Alberto threw out the runner at first for the second out.
But Hanser wasn’t finished! In the bottom half of the inning he gave the Orioles back their two-run lead with his 12th home run of the year. Then, in the top of the fifth inning, he did this:
What can't he do?!@elpotroalberto | #Birdland pic.twitter.com/KgXwDe8tfx— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) September 21, 2019
Hanser, he’s so hot right now.
Also hot was Aaron Brooks. The Mariners had two base runners in the fifth inning when Dee Gordon reached on a throwing error by Chris Davis and J.P. Crawford walked. But starting with a Kyle Seager fly out to end the fifth, Brooks retired the final 13 batters of the game. That’s pretty good, y’all. One of those outs in the ninth was on another nice play from Austin Hays.
King Felix exited the game after five innings, and the Orioles’ offense was quiet after that. They had just two base runners over their final three at-bats, both on walks. One, of course, was by Alberto. The other was by Villar.
All in all it was a nice team win on a nice night. I hope to see a few more of those before the season ends.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for Friday, September 20th?
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Hanser Alberto (Two web gems, 12th home run, 16th walk)
Aaron Brooks (7 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 3 K)