In the wake of the Manny Machado situation from over the weekend, if there was ever a day where the Baltimore Orioles needed a solid game all around it was last night. A good team win stood to help this team to move on from the theatrics that occurred in the weekend series with Oakland. And as always, it all begins and ends with starting pitching; Bud Norris to be
specific (from last night). Norris’ line: 8 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 6 K. At one point early on Norris retired 13 straight hitters before allowing a base hit. While Norris did struggle in the sixth a bit, he never broke – always bent.
Adam Jones got things started in terms of the scoreboard with a solo homer in the last of the first to give the Orioles a 1-0 lead. The Orioles also managed to put two runners on base in the fourth, however they were unable to put any runs across. However the way that Norris was pitching you got the impression that might not come back to haunt the Birds, and of course it didn’t. Norris was pretty stingy in allowing runners on base at all – much less letting them cross home plate.
Ryan Flaherty sent a one-out single to center field, which brought Nick Markakis to the plate. With the count at 2-1 (a good hitter’s count), Markakis sent a shot towards Eutaw St that hit off one of the flag poles. That ball looked destined for Eutaw St, however the pole got in it’s way. Nevertheless, it stood as a two-run homer and the Orioles had a 3-0 lead. Ryan Flaherty would add a solo shot for good measure in the last of the seventh, and the Orioles walked away with a 4-0 victory in game one of three with Boston.
Tommy Hunter came on to work the ninth inning (in a non-save situation), and he recorded a clean inning – for the first time this season no less. From the Orioles’ perspective that was a good thing to see, as Hunter of course struggled prior to going to the disabled list. Whether or not Hunter will regain his status as the team’s closer remains to be seen. I would submit that while a southpaw closer is considered unorthodox, Zach Britton has certainly looked good in that role to this point.
Another very interesting development occurred in the last of the fourth inning. Adam Jones led off with a single, and Boston predictably moved into a full shift towards right field for Chris Davis. That means that they were giving Davis the full third base and left field line. Davis dropped a bunt on the first pitch down the line, and was thrown out by the skin of his teeth at first. However Buck Showalter immediately asked for a review, which lasted all of 27 seconds. The replay was about as conclusive as conclusive can be, and Davis was ruled safe at first.
This is a great development for the Orioles’ offense, as teams might think twice about applying a shift on Davis. Granted it didn’t lead to any runs, however if this is something that Davis can show he’s able to do consistently it will pay dividends for the Birds on the scoreboard at some point.
As I said above, this was exactly the type of game that the team needed after what occurred over the weekend.
As for Bud Norris, the key to this start was commanding counts early and being able to use his change up to get out of at-bats. That’s an effort that Chris Tillman will try to replicate tonight in game two of the series. Tillman of course is coming off of a very poor start last week in Texas, and he’d do wonders for himself to turn in a consistent one tonight. Tillman will be opposed by Brian Workman.