For most of Saturday night, it was looking like one of those games for the Orioles. One of those games where one phase shows up and the other takes the night off.
And then the Baltimore bats, while late to the party, became the life of it.
Behind the big bats of Freddy Galvis, Maikel Franco and D.J. Stewart, and a nice “that’s more like it” start from Dean Kremer, the Orioles earned another victory over the Texas Rangers, this one a 6-1 result that guaranteed them a series win.
It took a little while. For six innings the Orioles had zeroes on the board, and were held to some harmless two-out hits by impressive Texas starter Dane Dunning. Adding to the frustration was that Kremer and the Baltimore bullpen were holding down their end of the deal, keeping Texas within reach at 1-0.
Then, in the seventh against reliever Taylor Hearn, Galvis - who went 4-for-4 for the night - drilled a double off the wall in left-center field with two outs. It was the Orioles’ sixth two-out hit, they hadn’t had any otherwise, and when the ball didn’t leave the yard, it had the makings of another “too little, too late” rally attempt.
This time, the Orioles kept the push going. Cedric Mullins singled to right to score Galvis and tie the game, and in the eighth, Baltimore kept coming. With Joely Rodriguez now on the mound, Stewart (2-for-5) led off with a hard single to right, and Franco (3-for-5) followed by going the other way for a single.
Rodriguez started Trey Mancini with an 0-2 count, but Mancini rebounded to drive a low changeup into left for a double that brought in Stewart, putting Baltimore ahead 2-1. Moments later, Ryan Mountcastle drilled a pitch to right that Joey Gallo caught at the wall, but that was more than deep enough to score Franco for a 3-1 lead.
In the ninth, the Orioles went shopping for insurance. Galvis led off with a ground rule double, Stewart hit a soft, broken-bat single to left to score him with two outs, and Franco followed with a 384-foot home run to right center that made it 6-1.
Suddenly, the night of offensive frustration was a more-than-comfortable 13-hit attack.
Galvis and Franco had the biggest nights at the plate, which was encouraging for Birds fans far and wide to see. The two newest Orioles entered the series with Texas batting .167 and .217, respectively, and had been the subject of some scorn and scoffs, but they’ve been thorns in the sides of the Rangers this weekend. Galvis is 6-for-7 for the two games, while Franco is 4-for-9.
Still, the game wasn’t just about the offense. Kremer struggled in each of his first two starts to the season, and entered the game with a 10.80 ERA. But he was sharp on Saturday, finishing with a line of 4.2 innings, five hits and one walk allowed, and six strikeouts. He showed good command, frequently spotting fastballs on all four sides of the strike zone and executing those pitches when he needed to to finish off hitters.
He pitched a 1-2-3 third, allowed only one baserunner in the first and second, and followed a leadoff single in the fifth with back-to-back strikeouts that all but neutralized the threat before he gave way to Wade LeBlanc.
There was one hiccup - the fourth. Kremer gave up a leadoff single to Nate Lowe when his 3-2 fastball that Pedro Severino wanted on the inside black strayed into the inside third of the plate. He fell behind Gallo 3-1 before battling back to strike him out, but he gave up a single to Adolis Garcia, then missed his spot again on an RBI single by David Dahl.
He could have been looking at a bigger inning had he not gotten Nick Solak to ground into what was just a gorgeous double play that started with a nice sliding stop and flip by Galvis (seriously, the guy had a game) and featured a barehanded catch and strong throw from Rio Ruiz to Mountcastle that ended the inning.
But it was just one inning in an impressive and encouraging outing, and the bullpen ran with what Kremer started. LeBlanc pitched a good inning and a third, Travis Lakins tossed a 1-2-3 seventh, and Tanner Scott and Shawn Armstrong finished the deed in the eighth and ninth.
The Orioles are now 6-2 on the road, and 7-8 on the season. They’ve swept in Boston, and now clinched a series in Texas. Home is where the heart is, but apparently the roads are where the wins are.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for Saturday, April 17th?
This poll is closed
Freddy Galvis (4-4, 2 R)
Maikel Franco (3-5, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI)
D.J. Stewart (2-5, RBI, R)
Trey Mancini (2-5, game-winning RBI 1B)
Dean Kremer (4.2 IP, 5 H, R, 6 Ks)