We all know that if you take two-of-three in a series you’re doing very well. However I’ve often said that if you’re going to do that odds are you want to drop either the first or second game as opposed to the third. When you lose the third game (even after winning the first two) like the Baltimore Orioles did last night in Anaheim it comes across almost like dropping the series.
Obviously we all know that’s not true, however I”m just saying that after you gather your belongings, get on the bus, get to the airport, and start flying to the next city, you’re kind of leaving that town with a bad taste in your mouth. Nevertheless, Chris Tillman recorded another quality start for the O’s; Tillman’s line: 6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 3 K. Tillman’s issue was once again going deep into counts, although he was able to get strike one fairly consistently. The two walks and three strikeouts are good signs, as that means he’s pitching to contact and getting people out in doing so.
Anaheim got on the board first after Mike Trout hit an infield single to third base, followed an Albert Pujols RBI-single. And that shows you how quick Trout is, as he scored from first base. I’ll be honest; when Trout first came into the league I didn’t like him too much because I though he was a bit of a show boater. But I also feel like he’s calmed down a bit, and there’s never been any question about the fact that he’s a great player (the same caliber of Manny Machado and Washington’s Bryce Harper) and that he always plays hard.
Anaheim would threaten again with two outs in the second and runners on first and second base. However catcher Chris Iannetta (who was on second) was caught napping. J.J. Hardy very slowly and very quietly got behind Iannetta and when Tillman threw the ball to Hardy the runner was out by a mile. It wasn’t even close; the Orioles didn’t even have to wait for the umpire to call the runner out, they just started running towards the visitors’ dugout.
Ryan Flaherty, who was once again playing third base in place of Machado, smacked a one-out double in the third inning. He advanced to third on Nick Hundley‘s fly out, and he would later score on Nick Markakis‘ RBI-single to tie the game. Later on in the sixth inning, the O’s took the lead due to something that we haven’t seen in awhile from their offense: speed on the
base paths. David Lough, who garnered a rare start last night, got aboard with a one-out single. Lough, who’s fast as lightning, proceeded to steal second base. Lough would score on Adam Jones‘ subsequent RBI-single, and suddenly the Orioles had a 2-1 lead.
It’s little things like that which can win you games. Lough is normally a late-inning defensive replacement, however he possibly earned some extra playing time here and there with that steal last night. Whether or not he cracks the starting lineup more often remains to be seen, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him inserted more often as a pinch runner when the O’s need a boost here and there.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t to be the Orioles’ night however. Tommy Hunter came on in the seventh, and in the eighth he allowed a lead off single to Josh Hamilton, followed by an RBI-double to Alex Aybar which tied the game at two. Later in the inning (with Brian Matusz pitching) the O’s intentionally walked Navarro to load the bases, however Matusz ended up issuing another walk to Calhoun which gave Anaheim the lead back and the game at 3-2.
People can second guess the decision to load the bases all day long. The fact is that strategy like that has won Buck Showalter more games than it’s lost him. The two wins thus far that the Orioles have against Washington came about because Showalter ordered Bryce Harper intentionally walked with first base open. If it induces a righty/righty or lefty/lefty matchup, fans should have no issue with it because you have better odds in those circumstances. In this case Brian Matusz walked in the go-ahead run, but I think that’s a chance you have to take.
So the Birds got out of Anaheim with two-of-three, which is certainly to their advantage. Keep in mind that Anaheim had been playing very well at home this season; even given the loss last night, the O’s are playing good baseball at a clutch moment in the season. The O’s will now head to Seattle for the closing act of this west coast swing. Wei-Yin Chen will start tonight for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Hisashi Iwakuma.