I’ve always told people that they shouldn’t worry when the Baltimore Orioles drop a few games in a row. The law of averages says that at a certain point the pendulum will have no choice but to swing back in the other direction; in other words they have to win at some point. When people should start to worry is when they go on a long winning streak…again, law of averages.
The O’s were able to successfully break their four-game losing streak last night, with a 2-1 win in Kansas City. Buck Showalter probably would have liked for Wei-Yin Chen to have gone a little longer in the game, however he got the job done and qualified for the victory. Chen’s line: 5.1 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K. The most crass of Baltimore Orioles fans will probably point out that the bats didn’t exactly come alive in a 2-1 victory. That’s certainly true, however in coming out of a slump you have to start hitting for average again before the power truly returns.
In saying that, the O’s got their two runs by way of power on Nelson Cruz‘s two-run homer in
the top of the fourth. Just prior to that, Chris Davis had drawn a walk to lead off the inning; as Rick Dempsey always says, nothing good ever happens after a walk, right?! From the pitcher’s perspective that’s very true for sure. However if you’re the team at bat it changes to lot’s of good things happen after a walk. Kansas City loaded the bases in the last of the fourth, however they only mustered one run (on former Oriole Danny Valencia‘s sac fly-RBI) as Chen was able to walk a tight rope and pitch out of it.
The real key to this victory was the strength of the Oriole bullpen, which may have turned in it’s best performance of the year. Darren O’Day pitched an inning and two thirds, and Troy Patton and Ryan Webb each pitched part of the eighth inning. In fact, the bullpen didn’t even surrender a hit last night, which is pretty impressive. It’s pretty tough to surrender the lead (even a one-run lead) if you don’t allow a base hit!
So as the game went to the last of the ninth, the bullpen doors swung open and southpaw Zach Briton emerged to try to close out the game. At the very least, this showed that perhaps there is some doubt in the minds of Buck Showalter and Dave Wallace in terms of Tommy Hunter as the closer. Britton induced three ground outs in the infield and sent Kansas City down 1-2-3 in the ninth, earning his first career save and breaking the Orioles’ losing streak.
So is Britton the new closer? I would say hold your horses before thinking or saying that. Any reliever is only going to be as good as his last save (in the minds of fans that is), which means that it’s safe to assume that the first time Britton blows a save people will be on his case also. Having said that, Britton’s two-seam fastball was pretty deadly in the ninth last night. While he still certainly wants to be a starting pitcher, it’s safe to say that he’s come a long way from the young sinkerballer who’s sinkerball wouldn’t sink.