It should have been so easy for the Orioles. Matt Harvey continued his second half renaissance by extending his scoreless innings streak to 18.1 innings, a new career high. Then, the bullpen happened. Specifically, Tanner Scott happened. Things got dicey, but it worked out in the end and the O’s held on for a 4-3 win over the Tigers to even the Detroit series at a game apiece.
Harvey has really been something else since the All-Star break. He followed up two straight scoreless outings of six innings apiece with tonight’s performance where he added another 6.1 without giving up a run. This stretch of three straight 6+ inning scoreless outings was last done by an Oriole by Kevin Gausman in 2016. Before that, it was Fernando Valenzuela in 1993, and before that, Jim Palmer in 1978.
In the first 18 starts he made this season, there was not much reason to think that Harvey would ever have this kind of thing in him. Perhaps he was able to use the break to change something up. Perhaps he’s gotten very lucky in either his batted ball outcomes or just the quality of teams he’s faced since the break. Whatever it is, it’s fun. Harvey has lowered his ERA by a run and a half, going from 7.70 at the break to 6.20 now.
Through six innings of the game, Harvey largely cruised. In only one inning in that time did the Tigers get more than one runner on base against Harvey. That was the fourth inning, when one of the two hits he allowed could have been prevented by a real second baseman instead of Pat Valaika.
While Harvey was cruising, the Orioles offense staked him with a run at a time. Pedro Severino delivered his seventh home run of the season to give the O’s a 1-0 lead in the third inning. Ryan Mountcastle hit his 17th homer in the fourth, another solo shot to extend his lead. In the fifth, Severino connected yet again. He now has as many post-All-Star break homers as he did first half homers.
Home runs are fun! So are singles with a man on second base. The fourth and final Orioles run crossed after Trey Mancini hit a leadoff double and was eventually brought home by Ramón Urías.
This ought to have been enough for an easy, stress-free win. The not-traded Paul Fry was summoned after Harvey let the first two men reach base and shut the door on Detroit, at least for that inning. In the eighth, manager Brandon Hyde called on another not-traded Oriole, Tanner Scott.
Every Orioles fan is by now acquainted with the fact that sometimes there is Bad Tanner Scott, the baseball equivalent of a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde kind of transformation. This was a Bad Tanner Scott kind of game. Teams are not stupid. They have surely seen enough of Scott and they know this can happen at any time. No wonder none of them offered the O’s enough to trade for him.
The ugly night for Scott started by allowing a leadoff triple to Tigers #9 hitter Derek Hill. Don’t do that! Then he unloaded a wild pitch to score the run. Don’t do that either! Alas. Scott followed by putting the next two men on base, giving up a single before hitting Jonathan Schoop by a pitch.
Just like that, the tying run was at the plate. Oh, and Scott walked him, too, bringing the go-ahead run up in the form of Miguel Cabrera. The Tigers slugger is chasing the 500 home run milestone. A go-ahead grand slam for #498 would certainly have been memorable.
Here, the manager Hyde had seen enough of Mr. Hyde. Having left this dump on the mound, Scott was summarily banished to the showers, with Dillon Tate left to play the janitor.
Cabrera tried his best to get that grand slam, hitting a deep fly ball to center field that Cedric Mullins tracked down and turned into a sacrifice fly, scoring the second Tigers run. The MASN broadcast noted that this fly ball would have been a home run in 27 of the 30 MLB stadiums. Lucky for the Orioles, Detroit’s stadium is one of the three.
This was only the first out. A grounder led to a forceout at second base, allowing Schoop to advance to third. From there, Schoop was able to score when Tate walked Tigers catcher Eric Haase. The fourth pitch of the walk inexplicably got away from Severino, who started to the right as the ball bounced instead to the left, bringing home the third Tigers run. Good gravy.
Even the third out was dramatic, a 99.6mph liner right off the bat of Zach Short. This went right at Urías, so the Orioles held on to that one-run lead. That was still all they would need. For the ninth, Hyde brought in Cole Sulser, who set down the 8-9-1 batters in the Tigers lineup in order, with no ball getting past the infielders. This was the fourth save of the season for Sulser.
There’s no separate column in the standings for pretty wins. There are only wins and losses, and this one turned in to a win for the Orioles.
The team is now 8-4 since the All-Star break. It’s a soft stretch of the schedule, as three of the four teams they’ve faced aren’t contending for anything. That will end after this weekend, so the O’s will have to make the most of it while they can. They’ll be back in action against the Tigers on Saturday at 6:10. John Means is set to start for the O’s, with Matt Manning pitching for Detroit.
It’s always fun when the Orioles win, though there are consequences of a sort for a tanking effort when the team wins. This win brings the O’s up to 36-66, on pace for a 57-105 season.
More immediately, they’ve now fallen behind the Rangers in the draft pick standings and are now set to pick third in 2022. The Rangers recently lost 12 straight games and were trailing late in the game that would send them down below the O’s in the standings as I was finishing this recap. I’ll take wins over getting myself pumped up for picking a top 3-5 player only to see the team go underslot again anyway.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for July 30, 2021?
This poll is closed
Matt Harvey (new career high scoreless innings streak)
Pedro Severino (two home run game)