It’s difficult to sweep a team in Major League Baseball – especially at their place. However that’s exactly what the Baltimore Orioles did last night as they defeated the ChiSox 4-3. Wei-Yin Chen was solid last night, although he gave up a couple of runs early on. Chen’s line: 7.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 7 K. In looking at those seven strikeouts, for the second consecutive night the off speed breaking pitches were really working well for an Oriole starter. Chen used those pitches to his advantage consistently.
A Garcia two-run homer in the first inning gave Chicago an early 2-0 lead. Looks and first impressions can often be deceiving however; at that time it looked as if the law of averages was catching up to the Orioles in that perhaps it wasn’t their night. But we’ve talked all season long about the resiliancy of this team, which is something that you need if you’re going to sweep a team. The Orioles battled back; they cut that 2-0 lead in half in the top of the fourth, when Steve Pearce led off the inning by hitting the first pitch he saw out of the ballpark.
That seemed to wake the Orioles up for the night, as Adam Jones reached on an infield single, and Nelson Cruz then hit a deep shot over the left field wall for his 33rd home run of the season. Suddenly the Orioles held a 3-2 lead. Jones would come to the plate again to lead off the 6th, and he promptly smacked a home run of his own. And it was a good thing the Birds had that insurance run, as Chicago got one back in the last of the inning on a Garcia sac fly-RBI.
We once again saw the resiliancy of the Orioles’ bullpen, as Darren O’Day and Zach Britton teamed up to pitch 1.2 innings and struck out three between the two of them (not allowing a base runner). In Britton’s case keep in mind that he hadn’t worked since Sunday in Cleveland, as the Orioles held sizable leads in the first two games of this series. But he didn’t skip a beat coming into the fray in a one-run game, and sent Chicago down 1-2-3 to close out the game and the Orioles’ sweep of the south siders.
This of course is a fairly strange road trip for the Birds in that not only do they play two series’ in Chicago (they’ll start a three-game weekend series at Wrigley Field on Friday afternoon), but they also have an off day in between the two series’. (On a side note, it’s kind of poor scheduling on MLB’s part; granted you take days off at this point however you can get them, but it makes much more sense to have a floating day off on a travel day as opposed to when the team is staying in the same city.) So perhaps other than the fact that they aren’t in Baltimore, they’re staying in a hotel, and they’re wearing road grays, it’s almost like a homestand for the Birds in that they aren’t going anywhere.
With New York losing and Toronto winning last night, the Birds now find themselves nine games in first place ahead of Toronto, with New York being 9.5 games back. Many people ask me on a daily basis if I think the Birds will win the AL East. First off, you always preface these kinds of statements with “you never know what could happen, as there’s a lot of baseball yet to be played.” But to answer that question properly we should think backwards. They say that if you’re within five games of first place on 9/1, you have a fighting chance. Again, you never know what happens moving forward, but we’re only a week-and-a-half from that magic date so to speak. And the O’s have a nine game lead as it stands today. And that’s been achieved by being a resiliant team, which is necessary in order to sweep a team (especially on the road) as I said above. It’s also necessary in order to play in October – and potentially win a championship.