Nolan Reimold and Steve Pearce weren’t hitting the ball very well going into Thursday’s game against Tampa. Pearce was 0-for-15 on the season, and Reimold was struggling to stay above the Mendoza Line. As we know, Pearce recorded his first hit on the year that night (a homer at that), and Reimold provided a key home run. Fast forward to this afternoon in the first game of a twin bill against the LA Dodgers; Reimold provided a key homer to get the Orioles’ offense going after being down 4-0, and later the eventual winning runs with an RBI-double in the last of the eighth. Pearce gave the Orioles a short-lived lead with a two-RBI single as well. Many people questioned these guys’ continued presence on the roster, however we need to realize that baseball’s much more of a grind than any other sport. Furthermore, you’re never more than one at-bat away from breaking out of a slump.
Jason Hammel provided an “interesting” start to say the least. In the first game of a twin bill the last thing you want is for your starter to struggle. Hammel became the fourth pitcher in as many games to give up a home run in the first inning for the Orioles. This time it was a damaging one, as Andre Ethier sent a three-run shot onto Eutaw St. However the good news is that Hammel settled down. His final line: 6 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 23BB, 5 K. After driving the score to 4-0, Hammel appeared to be a new pitcher for the Orioles. This was most evident when Buck Showalter sent him back out to pitch the sixth, already bordering on 100 pitches. Hammel got through the inning in nine pitches, which potentially saved the Orioles from having to use an extra reliever.
Chris Davis led off the last of the second with a base hit, which was followed up with a J.J. Hardy two-run homer. Los Angeles had been leading 4-0, and that’s where you could start to see the game change a bit. Nolan Reimold brought the Orioles to within one at 4-3 with a solo homer in the fourth. Hardy struck again in the sixth with a sac fly that tied the game. Pearce then singled Chris Davis home, and the Orioles suddenly had the lead. When the Orioles turned around and switched pitchers, Jason Hammel was in line to win the game which would have surprised anyone that watched only the first inning.
Unfortunately Pedro Strop had a conflict of confidence when he came in to relieve Hammel, and he allowed Mark Ellis to score on a wild pitch. However part of Orioles baseball of late has been picking up your teammates, and Brian Matusz and Darren O’Day shut down Los Angeles in the seventh and eighth. With one out in the last of the eighth Chris Davis missed a home run by about two inches, however he represented the go-ahead run at second base. Following a J.J. Hardy walk, both Hardy and Davis advanced into scoring position on a catchers’ passed ball. That brought Reimold to the plate following an IBB of pinch-hitter Nate McLouth. Reimold pulled a tight liner down the right field line for a two-RBI double, and the Orioles took the opener 7-5.
Steve Pearce had too good of a spring not to be in the big leagues with the Orioles right now, and while he had a difficult start he’s paying dividends now. Baseball is a game that will humble you to no end, however it also provides guys with redemption if they’re willing to scuffle for it. The concern coming out of the game is that the bullpen was probably used a bit more than Buck Showalter and Rick Adair would have liked, however that’s part of a doubleheader. The haven’t made any roster moves prior to game two, so while the bullpen did take a bit of a hit in game one at the very least they appear to be comfortable with where the pen is going into game two. That isn’t to say that Wei-Yin Chen couldn’t afford to go deep into the game however.