Spot starts out of the bullpen sometimes tend to humble teams. Heck, last night’s Orioles starter T.J. McFarland himself had been victimized on a occasion or two. However this year in spring training the Orioles did stretch him out a bit, knowing that there could come a day when they might need a spot start out of the bullpen. That day came last night. McFarland’s line: 5.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 2 K.
Normally we’d be here talking about another short outing by a starter, but the fact that
McFarland is generally the long man out of the pen for the Baltimore Orioles, they’ll take a five inning outing. McFarland isn’t a hard thrower, but he pitches-to-contact and records outs when need be.
The Orioles once again took an early lead, using two homers in the first inning to get ahead. Steve Pearce hit his third homer in two days, and Nelson Cruz hit his first in a few days to give the Orioles a 2-0 lead. However a single and two doubles in the second inning tied the game for Texas. But those would be the only runs that McFarland would give up on the night. And for the record, the O’s had the lead back in the last of the inning when Caleb Joseph smacked a two-run home run.
Perhaps “the key moment” of the game occurred in the last of the fourth with one out and the bases loaded. The one benefit for the defense with the bases loaded is that there’s a force out at every base. Caleb Joseph hit what should have been a double-play ball to Elvis Andrus at short. Andrus bobbled the ball, and Texas was unable to record even one out – and J.J. Hardy scored from third. The Orioles would tack on three more runs on Nick Markakis‘ two-RBI double and Steve Pearce’s sac fly-RBI, and the O’s had an 8-2 lead.
For once it seems, the O’s had an opponent make a mistake in a game and they were held accountable for it. The Orioles have often seemed to have someone open the door for them in games only to let them off the hook by grounding into a double-play, or flying out. Markakis’ two-run double and the sac fly by Pearce were also good signs. The O’s have been scoring runs exclusively on homers for a few games, so it was nice to see some manufactured runs last night as well.
Texas would put one more across in the sixth on an RBI-groundout, however with the 8-3 win last night you’d be hard pressed to argue that the Birds haven’t dominated in the first two games of this series with Texas. McFarland really did a huge service to Buck Showalter and the Birds last night by bridging the gap in the rotation that was created with Bud Norris‘ injury. The Birds did blow through four other relievers (after McFarland) last night, however they each pitched one inning. Showalter threw Zach Britton in for the ninth just because he hadn’t worked since Friday night.
The Orioles will look to Chris Tillman tonight to continue the trend of beating Texas. He’ll be opposed by Miles Mikolas who will be making his first start of the season for Texas. He’ll be greeted by some Oriole bats that will come in pretty hot. The Orioles now sit one game behind Toronto for first place in the AL East, and they’re 2.5 games ahead of NY, who’s in third place.