There are a few different angles from which to describe the Orioles’ 11-3 victory over New York at Camden Yards. First off, the game was televised by FOX, with their A-team announcers of Joe Buck and Tim McCarver in the house. They seemed to show the Orioles an immense amount of respect, and even alluded to the fact that they could potentially represent the American League in the World Series. I think that Orioles fans would prefer to live in the here and now, however point taken; the Baltimore Orioles are a good team. FOX also seemed to go to great lengths to showcase the city of Baltimore and Camden Yards with their camera shots going in and out of commercials, which is nice to see. For so many years if the Orioles got a FOX game it would only be due to the fact that they were playing New York/Boston; not anymore.
Zach Britton was solid through five innings, but once again struggled in the sixth. Britton’s line: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 2 R (1 earned), 3 BB, 1 K. Britton ended up loading the bases with two outs in the first inning, and many fans at the yard probably got flashbacks of games against New York years ago. However Britton battled out of it without surrendering a run. The O’s put the first two runners on base in the last of the inning, and Adam Jones‘ RBI-single scored Manny Machado to put the O’s ahead 1-0. We spend so much time talking about opportunities that the Orioles waste, runners left on base (in scoring position), etc; New York wasted a golden opportunity in the first inning, and they paid
dearly for it. Chris Davis followed up Jones’ effort with a three-run homer to center field, his 29th on the season.
The O’s were at it again in the third, with Chris Dickerson legging out an infield hit with the bases loaded (a ball that was bobbled by SS Jayson Nix), scoring Chris Davis and Matt Wieters. That brought Ryan Flaherty to the plate…the same Ryan Flaherty who’s desperately trying to keep his job when Brian Roberts is activated tonight. Flaherty certainly made a good lasting impression, smacking an Earl Weaver special to right field. That put the Orioles ahead 9-0, and effectively ended the competitive portion of the game. Just for good measure however, Chris Davis decided to get one more in and sent a no-doubter onto the flag court in the last of the sixth. Coming out of the game, Davis stands at 30 homers on the year which leads the majors.
The one mini-concern in this game is the fact that for the third consecutive start Zach Britton was unable to get out of the sixth inning. It wasn’t a problem last night, but Oriole bats aren’t going to put up 11 runs every game. To me this is an issue with endurance as opposed to “stuff.” Britton’s sinker was sinking well last night – for five innings. And that’s the truth incidentally; for five innings he was really good. He had trouble finding the plate in the sixth, which tells me that he was tired. Earlier in the day the Orioles DFA’d Travis Ishikawa and called up Jair Jurrjens from triple-A Norfolk. (If Ishikawa clears waivers he could either accept a minor league assignment or opt to become a free agent.) Jurrjens came in to reliever Britton, and promptly ended the NY threat. Pedro Strop came in to close out the ninth inning and while he surrendered a run to NY, the outcome was never in doubt.
One thing that struck me was that when NY manager Joe Girardi lifted starter David Phelps in favor of Ivan Nova, we didn’t see another NY reliever. Did Girardi ask Nova to “take one for the team” and complete the game so as not to have to use another pitcher? That’s obviously a position in which the O’s have found themselves in the recent past, and it’s interesting to see someone have to do that against the Birds. The Orioles are getting a lot of national publicity this weekend, which is good for the franchise as well as the city of Baltimore. Last night’s game was technically not a national telecast, however it was FOX’s A-game as part of their Saturday baseball package. (Basically, if you’re in an area which did not have a regional game, you saw the O’s and NY.)
Tonight the Orioles will forego the normal 1:30 Sunday game in favor of an 8 PM start on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. The entire country will hopefully get a trip to “Tillman Island” tonight, as Chris Tillman goes for his 10th win of 2013. Tillman will be opposed by Hiroki Kuroda. The Orioles will celebrate the aforementioned return of Brian Roberts tonight, out since the third game of the year with a hamstring injury. Everyone is speculating about whether Flaherty or Alexi Casilla will be the corresponding roster move; my prediction is that it’s Jair Jurrjens who’s sent to the minors – for now. The O’s will also need to make a roster move prior to Tuesday’s game in Chicago when Nolan Reimold returns. (But if push comes to shove, I predict that Casilla would be the odd man out; he’s played well for the O’s, but I think that Flaherty’s upside is much higher.) A win tonight would mean a three-game sweep of New York for the Orioles, and before a national TV audience at that. If only Orioles fans could have seen this coming circa 2007!