Courtesy of Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Orioles double their pleasure, sweep twin-bill

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Needless to say, this is going to be a bit different than your average run-of-the-mill game recap, mainly because this is two game recaps in one. That’s what’s going to happen when you play two games in one day – for the price of one, if you’re a fan. The Baltimore Orioles were faced with several pending roster moves on this day of two games against Pittsburgh, starting with deciding who would be sent down in favor of third baseman Manny Machado. That person ended up being Steve Lombardozzi, who will now report to triple-A Norfolk. In between games, Troy Patton‘s suspension ended, and he was activated in favor of Evan Meek. So it wasn’t just a twin bill, it was a big day for roster moves.

Game one: Buck Showalter sent Bud Norris out to the mound in game one, and while he had a rough start, it could have been a lot worse. Norris’ line: 5.1 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 3 K. Through two innings, Norris had thrown approximately 40 pitches as opposed to Pittsburgh starter Charlie Morton‘s 20. To be fair, Pittsburgh hitters fouled off pitches left and right, which of course drives up a pitcher’s pitch count. However that seems to happen frequently to the O’s for whatever reason.

Pittsburgh drew first blood against Norris, when Tabata led off the third with a triple to center. Alvarez would follow with an RBI-single, and somehow it appeared that it was just going to be one of those days for the O’s. However there were two things that turned things around in a sense. The first was Mercer grounding out to shortstop, with Marte proceeding to think he could somehow make it to third base. He was easily thrown out, and that got Norris out of the inning and probably saved him a few pitches. The second thing that helped turn the game around was – WAIT FOR IT – a rain delay. Go figure, a 21 minute rain delay in the first of a twin bill to makeup two rain outs.

However the Orioles were a changed team after the delay. They loaded the bases (with the help of a Pittsburgh error) in the fifth and Steve Pearce‘s RBI-single tied the score at one. Ryan Flaherty followed with a two-RBI single, and the O’s took their first lead of the day at 3-1. Pearce would add another RBI (on his first game after being brought back due to some masterful roster games by the O’s) in the last of the sixth, and Nick Markakis would homer in the seventh to close out the Orioles’ 5-1 victory in game one.

Game Two: Following (go figure) ANOTHER rain delay between games, Chris Tillman got off to a somewhat inauspicious beginning – by having to throw 49 pitches and giving up two runs in the first inning. Tillman ended up issuing three walks in the inning, but in typical Tillman fashion he also buckled down and probably did more to help the team win than we realize. Tillman’s line: 4.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 8 K, 3 BB. Ultimately the last thing Tillman wanted to do was get back into the Orioles’ bullpen early on, however it couldn’t be avoided. Yet as you can see from his stat line, he struck out eight hitters – not too shabby.

Pittsburgh stretched their lead to 3-0 in the fifth on Andrew McCutchen‘s RBI-single, after which Tillman gave way to Evan Meek. In the top of the sixth Meek would give up another run to stretch the lead to 4-0 for the Bucco’s, yet the Birds hadn’t even begun to fight. In the last of that same sixth inning, Adam Jones put in an RBI-double, Matt Wieters an RBI-single, and J.J. Hardy a two-RBI single. Suddenly the game was tied at four – putting Tillman off the hook for the loss. Yet Pittsburgh wasn’t exactly done either, and they added a run in the top of the seventh on an RBI-single.

What the Orioles wanted to avoid with the doubleheader was a grind-‘em-out type of game, but that’s what they got. So it wasn’t surprising in the last of the seventh when Nick Markakis hit his second homer of the day (first of the game) to tie the score at five. And it shouldn’t have even been surprising to anyone that the game went to extra innings. The Orioles had to have thought gee not only do we play a doubleheader with two rain delays after which we’ll have to fly to Minnesota, but the second game goes to extras. However luckily for everyone involved Matt Wieters hit the second pitch he saw in the last of the tenth out of the ballpark, and the Orioles had swept the series/doubleheader with Pittsburgh.

The big story in game two for the O’s of course was the return of Manny Machado. Granted he went 0-for-5 at the plate, but just having him back in the lineup makes a difference for the O’s at this point. The Orioles also optioned reliever Evan Meek to triple-A Norfolk after the game, as they’ll obviously need a fresh arm as they head to Minnesota. They will announce a corresponding move today. The O’s will take on the Minnesota Twins tonight at 8 PM, with Ubaldo Jimenez taking on Ricky Nolasco.

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