Orioles fans can breathe a sigh of relief that last night’s long-awaited win against the Twins halted their losing streak at 14 games. But the victory sure wasn’t easy to come by.
Even after the Orioles took a big, early lead, they had to fight and claw every inning to hold on. Cedric Mullins had to make an amazing sliding catch to stifle a threat in the third. Bruce Zimmermann had to make a big-time pitch to strike out Josh Donaldson with two runners aboard in the fifth. Stevie Wilkerson had to range for a nifty snare of a grounder up the middle in the sixth, one batter after his failure to turn a double play kept the Twins alive.
Tanner Scott had to bail out a wild Dillon Tate in the seventh, which ended with the Twins stranding the bases loaded. Cesar Valdez caught a break in the eighth when Andrelton Simmons’ baserunning blunder stifled a potential Twins rally. Cole Sulser battled through a 26-pitch ninth inning with Paul Fry unavailable, facing the potential tying run before the game-ending out settled comfortably in Cedric Mullins’ glove.
The O’s scrapped and scraped and stressed their way through it all, finally getting the 14-L monkey off their backs. Now, for their next order of business: how about a nice, relaxing, worry-free victory?
It could happen. It’s just unlikely. The Orioles haven’t won a game by more than four runs since John Means’ no-hitter in Seattle on May 5. Before that, you have to go back to April 25’s 8-1 decision against the Athletics (also started by Means) for a true slam-dunk win.
Alas, Means isn’t starting tonight. The Orioles are planning to go with a bullpen game, starting Matt Harvey on three days’ rest with the expectation that he’ll only go a couple of innings. The O’s recalled lefty Zac Lowther from Triple-A to serve as a bulk guy in the bullpen, but he’ll need to pitch better than he did at Norfolk (18.90 ERA in two games) if he hopes to eat many innings tonight.
OK, so maybe a comfortable, blowout victory is too much to ask. We’ll gladly just settle for another win, however we can get it.
CF Cedric Mullins
DH Trey Mancini
RF Anthony Santander
SS Freddy Galvis
LF DJ Stewart
1B Ryan Mountcastle
3B Maikel Franco
2B Stevie Wilkerson
C Austin Wynns
RHP Matt Harvey