The Baltimore Orioles aren’t going to get many style points or make too many waves by beating Houston, a team that (if records mean anything) that they should beat. However the Orioles aren’t one of those teams that just assumes that they’re predestined to win games based on the records or anything else. However when they found themselves down 3-0 to lowly Houston, they didn’t panic. They simply started chipping away. That’s really all you can do in a situation like that; you have to start somewhere. When Houston’s starter, Harrell, started to struggle, the Orioles jumped on him. When all was said and done, the Birds had a 4-3 win to snap a two-game losing streak.
Wei-Yin Chen pitched a solid game for the Birds, and in doing so went deep into the game at that. Chen’s line: 7.1 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 9 K. Inside that pitching line Chen threw 119 pitches, which helps to explain how he got to those nine strikeouts. Chen had one inning in which he struggled, which in this case was the third. However I’m not sure how much it can be said that he “struggled” in that inning, because he made some good pitches but suffered from a bit of misfortune. Following a one-out single left fielder Robbie Grossman made a very poor attempt at a sacrifice bunt. Grossman popped the bunt up in front of catcher Matt Wieters, which normally would result in an out. However it was just far enough away that Wieters couldn’t catch it on the fly, and it hung in the air long enough to where Wieters didn’t have time to throw him out at first. The bases were loaded following a Jonathan Villar single, and Altuve sent a very soft base hit up the middle which scored two runs.
There did appear to be a bit of relative unfairness in the sense that Houston had kind of screwed up (Grossman’s poor bunt), and then had then a softly hit single. Suddenly the O’s trailed 2-0. However that’s baseball. This was further compounded by the fact that Villar was on third base, and in a surprise move stole home plate to give Houston a 3-0 lead. Granted the play appeared to be a straight steal of home plate where Villar caught Chen napping. But my thought at the time (evidenced by this tweet) was that someone had to have missed a sign on a hit-and-run. Either Villar thought he saw a sign for a hit-and-run, or the batter (Rockville, MD native Justin Maxwell) missed the sign and didn’t swing. I’m not sure that a team would pull a stunt like a straight steal of home plate with two outs at that point in the game. Either way, the result is certainly the same and it really makes no difference.
The Birds started chipping away, and it started very innocently. Manny Machado walked to lead off the fourth for the Birds, and he was sacrificed to second base by Adam Jones. Following a walk issued to Chris Davis and a wild pitch that sent Machado to third, Matt Wieters took first on a base on balls as well. J.J. Hardy‘s RBI-single followed, which cut Houston’s lead to 3-2. That’s exactly how you chip away and get back into games when you’re down. It was also evident that Harrell had lost his luster and that the Orioles had figured him out after one turn through the order. A big blow will generally aid a comeback attempt as well, and the Orioles got that in the sixth. With Nick Markakis on after a walk, Harrell aimed a fastball low in the strikezone to Chris Davis on a 3-1 count. However Davis went down and got it, sending a two-run homer the opposite way and giving the O’s a 4-3 lead in the process.
That was Davis’ 38th homer of the season, and his first since July 14th. Hopefully that will quiet all of the critics that have popped up in the past few weeks, but more importantly it gave the Orioles the lead. As Jim Palmer would say, that means that Houston would need to score at least five runs to beat you. The way Chen was pitching, that didn’t appear likely. Darren O’Day came in and recorded the final two outs of the eighth, and Jim Johnson was lights out in the ninth, sending Houston down 1-2-3.
Overnight it appears that the Boston Red Sox traded for Jake Peavy, which takes him off the board for the O’s. Many Orioles fans are going to be upset by this, and for certain it does make the Orioles’ road just a bit tougher. However keep in mind that Boston sent three very good minor league prospects to Chicago as part of the three-team trade (also involving Detroit). So they hardly got Peavy for free. Nevertheless, one of the guys in whom the O’s still have interest is Houston’s Bud Norris. As of right now, former Oriole Erik Bedard is scheduled to oppose Miguel Gonzalez in tonight’s game at the yard. If Norris isn’t traded by 4 PM, Houston manager Bo Porter will slide Bedard back a day and start Norris tonight. So will Norris be headed out someplace else prior to 4 PM today, or will he be staying at Camden Yards (in some capacity)? Stay tuned!