First thing’s first; manager Buck Showalter announced following last night’s 3-2 extra inning win over Kansas City that first baseman Chris Davis was headed to the 15-day DL with an oblique strain. Davis had an MRI yesterday morning, and the decision was made over the course of the day to send Davis to the DL to get the rest that he needs to rehab the oblique. Interestingly however, Showalter said that he would go with a 24-man roster for today’s series finale against Kansas City, and that the Birds might not formally make a corresponding roster move until Tuesday (with Monday being an off day). Might that mean that Manny Machado could be the corresponding move? Time will tell.
Wei-Yin Chen gave the Baltimore Orioles exactly what they had been searching for last
night: a quality start. Chen’s line: 7 IP, 9 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 6 K. Each time Kansas City threatened in the game, Chen either pitched out of the jam or minimized the damage by allowing only one run. And perhaps the thing that impressed me the most over the course of his start was the seventh inning. After recording two outs Chen started to have some control problems in terms of fastball command – almost on cue as he approached 100 pitches. Catcher Matt Wieters started putting the ol’ number 2 signal down a few times, and Chen was able to get his breaking and off speed pitches by “Commissioner” Alex Gordon for strikes. (Those of you who follow my twitter feed during games know that I’ve been playing the “Commissioner Gordon game” this series, referring of course to the police commissioner in Batman.) One of the many marks of a good pitcher is one who’s able to revert to his off speed stuff when he starts to tire, and get those pitches by big league hitters for strikes.
The O’s got on the scoreboard early in the first inning, with Nick Markakis‘ RBI-single which scored lead off man Jermile Weeks (more on him in a moment). Adam Jones would follow that up with a fielder’s choice-RBI, and the Orioles had started the game in the same manner as Kansas City did Friday’s game: by manufacturing two early runs. Weeks of course had been the corresponding roster move for T.J. McFarland following Friday night’s loss, which is basically a ripple effect of Davis’ injury. Weeks went 2-for-4 in the game last night at the DH, and in general he has the ability to get on base fairly frequently. He also has blazing speed when he gets on; seeing him run the bases last night reminded me of Felix Pie a few years ago. Pie as you’ll remember had a lot of natural talent, but it was unharnessed and he often made bad mistakes in games. Weeks doesn’t appear to have that problem, but the one common denominator between the two is that they’re both blazing fast.
Eric Hosmer put Kansas City on the board in the third with an RBI-double, and Maryland-native Justin Maxwell tied the game in sixth with an RBI-single. However as I said above, Chen was able to minimize the damage both times. For the record, former Oriole Jeremy Guthrie matched Chen pitch-for-pitch on Kansas City’s behalf. He shut down the Orioles’ offense as the game wore on, showing that these two teams appear to be very evenly matched. Following the seventh inning, the Birds used a barrage of relivers (five to be exact). However one would be hard-pressed to argue that Buck Showalter was blowing through his bullpen given that Evan Meek, Brian Matusz, and Darren O’Day each faced one hitter.
Tommy Hunter shut down Kansas City in the ninth with a clean inning, and recorded two outs in the tenth (as the game went to extra innings) before allowing a single and being pulled in favor of Zach Britton – who got the Orioles out of the inning. Jonathan Schoop led off the last of the tenth by getting hit with a pitch, and David Lough reached base safely on an E1. Ironically, Jermile Weeks reached base on a second error on Kansas City’s reliever Danny Duffy, and suddenly the bases were loaded with nobody out. That served as a moment in which most of Camden Yards knew that the Orioles “had” Kansas City. Obviously a bases loaded with nobody out situation is a situation in which the team is almost guaranteed to score
a run, and being the home team the Birds only needed one to win.
However Nelson Cruz struck out in the subsequent at-bat, and the O’s found themselves in a situation in which a ground ball in the infield could keep the game going. But Nick Markakis, who played a great first base in Davis’ absence, made sure that wasn’t going to happen. He sent a soft liner the opposite way down the left field line, which bounced just fair and ended the game with the Orioles winning 3-2 in walk off fashion. With the victory, the O’s once again find themselves a game above .500 and now with a chance of taking two-of-three from Kansas City this afternoon. Miguel Gonzalez will head to the mound for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by “Big Game” James Shields of Kansas City.