After what seemed like forever for fans of the Baltimore Orioles, the Birds finally won a series finale yesterday. Many fans had groused over the past few weeks that the O’s couldn’t seem to sweep anyone in the final game of a series. If that’s the biggest complaint that Orioles fans have, the season must be going okay. Nevertheless, yesterday’s game was not a chance at a sweep given that Minnesota won game two. However the Orioles were able to win the game and thus secure their ninth series win of the season (out of twelve). That’s winning baseball no matter how you look at it folks.
Starter Wei-Yin Chen was credited with the win, although he only went five innings in the game. Chen’s line: 5 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K. Chen came out of the game after throwing only 73 pitches through five, and in effect was probably on part to at least pitch into the seventh inning. Chen felt some discomfort in his right side, which the Orioles later diagnosed as a strained oblique. After the game Chen said that he only felt the discomfort during the final at-bat of the fifth inning, and that he thought it was only a cramp. The Orioles can play around with the rotation a bit this week given that they have today and Thursday both as off days, but this is something to watch and with which to be a bit concerned moving forward.
The O’s took an early 2-0 lead when Chris Davis hit a two-run homer that appeared to land all the way in St. Paul, and which appeared to have the Minnesota faithful at Target Field buzzing for some time afterwards. Catcher Chris Snyder collected his first base hit (and RBI) as an Oriole in the second inning which scored J.J. Hardy, and the Orioles led 3-0. Adam Jones later joined the homer parade led by Davis in the third with a home run that hit the outfield wall’s railing and bounced into the stands. Later on it was announced that Jones’ homer was the quickest ball to ever go from someone’s bat into the stands at Target Field. So if all else fails, Jones will have that feat! Steve Pearce would add a solo homer and the O’s would manufacture another run to close out the scoring in the Orioles’ 6-0 victory to take the series.
One very positive sign from this game was also the Orioles’ bullpen. Prior to the game the Birds optioned Steve Johnson back to Norfolk and brought up Mike Belfiore to add depth to the bullpen. Buck Showalter was hoping Chen would go deep into the game, however the injury prevented that from happening. However Hunter, O’Day, Matusz, and Strop closed out the final four innings of the game without incident. Perhaps the most promising of all was Pedro Strop, who appears to be regaining some of his form from 2012. Strop pitched the ninth inning of Saturday’s loss as well as yesterday’s victory, striking out two and not allowing a base runner in both games. Closer Jim Jonson will also have a minimum of three days off given that the O’s lost on Saturday, didn’t need him yesterday (in a non-save situation), and are off today.
The Chen injury situation is something to watch today as well as this week. Given a five-man rotation Chen’s next start could potentially be Sunday, however as I said the Orioles have two off days this week so if they had to I suppose they could skip him in the rotation. The team says it’s an oblique, Chen says it’s a cramp…time will tell. The good news is that if by chance he has to go to the DL, the O’s could potentially bolster their bullpen in the short term given that they don’t necessarily need a fifth starter in the immediate future. However at some point if they needed a starter, I would bet Jair Jurrjens might be the guy to get the call given that he has an opt-out clause in his contract for June 15th. In the mean time, Orioles fans should simply hope that Chen is right when he says that it was only a cramp.