My headline assumes my readers know about and use Twitter. For those of you who don’t, the #hashtags are often posted in Tweets as trends (users can then click on the hashtags to see multiple Tweets from people who used them). The reason I used this is because I’m hoping the O’s have started a winning trend (get it?) with their 4-1 win over the Red Sox.
Granted, the Red Sox aren’t the team everyone though they would be, but they have gone 8-3 in their last 11 games (including tonights loss). So, they definitely seem to be getting back on track to be the Red Sox contenders they’re supposed to (and annoyingly, almost always seem to) be. The O’s are another story, like we all know, and the same story that they are season-after-season. That story is simple: they plain ole just suck. Now, the reason I’m talking about starting a winning trend here is because of the type of win the O’s got. It wasn’t the 11-0 one-time-this-season-gigantic-shut-out they got against the Twins to end their 8 game losing streak. Don’t get me wrong, that was awesome. But everyone knows, you won’t have many games like that in a season. Tonight’s game, however, was different. The O’s played small ball and that’s what teams have to do to succeed more than half the time.
Let’s face it, Zach Britton was beast tonight. He pitched six solid innings (and could have gone more if it wasn’t for that darn pitch count) giving up 5 hits and only 1 run on an RBI sac fly. That is solid. This is what he has done for us all season. He’s really been the only starter who has been consistent and he’s the only one who has gone at least 6 innings in all of his outings. That is what you need in a starter. And to think he was going to be in the minors this season! He’s turned out to be the best in the starting rotation (that very well may change when Matusz comes back)! I hate to say this but I think it may have actually been a good thing, in the long run, that Matusz got hurt. That sounds bad but if he hadn’t, Britton wouldn’t be here (well, maybe he would have been called up instead of Chris Jakubauskas, but still). So, when Matusz comes back, we will have both of these ace-quality pitchers in our rotation. In the 5th inning, he did face some trouble. He gave up a single, followed by a double, and then a 4-pitch walk to load up the bases with one out. However, he got out of it brilliantly with the ground out. He has shown that he does not panic in stressful situations even though he is young. Sorry to gush over him, but I just love this guy.
An interesting stat: the O’s are 7-2 when they score first in a game (as they did tonight) and 2-10 when the other team scores first (the worst in the majors). That can’t be that low and if it stays that way, then the O’s just HAVE to score first. It’s as simple as that.
Mark Reynolds gets his 6th double of the season, sending Luke Scott to 3rd. Following this, Matt Wieters hits what looks like a foul ground ball, but it stays fair and turns into an RBI base hit (literally, it hit first base and bounced off of it) to put the O’s on the board first (securing the win). By the way, Wieters is still perfect with RISP, going 7 for 7; that is absolutely insane. Also, Reynolds struck out 42% of the time last season, and this season he has brought that percentage down to 31%, so it’s definitely good to see him improving in that area (he’s not improving in the ground out area or the home run area however).
Derrek Lee woke up tonight, getting a multi-hit game. In the 5th, he singled leading off the inning and that marked the 3rd time in 5 innings that the lead-off batter got on base. That’s key. Base runners need to be available so other hitters can get RBIs so runs can be scored. That’s how the game works so lead-off batters getting on base that often is important. Andino also walked as the lead-off batter in the 8th inning.
Vladimir Guerrero went 3 for 4, his first 3-hit game as an Oriole. He has also had 88 plate appearances without a walk, the longest for a batter in the league. My guess: he doesn’t get a walk all season. It wouldn’t surprise me; he does not believe in them.
In the 7th, Luke Scott hit a double after fouling off a lot of pitches (not sure of the exact count but somewhere around 10 I would say) sending Vladdy to 3rd. Adam Jones is then intentionally walked with 1 out to load up the bases (I’m not sure why they did this, he had hit 2 RBI sac flies earlier in the game but Reynolds could do that (which he did) and AJ hasn’t been that hot. I guess he had he 3-run homer against the Yanks to tie it up Sunday, but still, I don’t know). Mark Reynolds hits an RBI sac fly that went to the warning track, and boy did I want that thing to go out.
Tonight, the O’s got the most hits against Buchholz in a game in their career with 12 of them. Jim Johnson had 2 brilliant innings (7th and 8th). I know I said before that he made me nervous and I didn’t like him but he has improved exponentially since last season it seems like and now I’m loving him. He seems to be the one guy in the bullpen who hasn’t blown anything. Berken would follow him at 2nd but he didn’t do too well in his last game.
This is why I like this game. It wasn’t a huge outing for the offense, it was just a well-played normal game. Games like this result in wins 70% of the time at least and this is what the O’s have to focus on. They should not be focused on being perfect, having every aspect of the team on fire at the same time. It doesn’t work like that. On occasion it does (11-0 shut-out of Twins), but it’s very rare. The O’s just need to get a few runs in every game so their pitchers have margins for errors and the starters basically need to do what they’ve been doing, because they haven’t been bad they just have gotten no offense.
A win tomorrow, in the same fashion as this one, could really signal for a bit of a turnaround a believe. What are your thoughts?