Baltimore Orioles: A lot of thunder and lightning


The Oriole bats broke out last night, that’s for sure. The Orioles’ 9-8 win over Cleveland last night (snapping a three-game losing streak) wasn’t the prettiest of games, but when your team is struggling as much as the Orioles had been you take whatever you can get. The game time temperature at Camden Yards was 102 degrees; I think Buck Showalter said it best on WBAL’s pregame show with Roch Kubatko when he said that baseball’s played in the summer, and heat’s part of the job description. Both teams had to deal with it, and in fact it seemed that both teams’ pitching staffs were somewhat spooked by it.

Jake Arrieta was only able to go 3.2 innings before being lifted with the Orioles trailing 5-3. Arrieta wasn’t necessarily pitching poorly even given the five runs. I’ll admit that I was a bit surprised to see Showalter lift him as quickly as he did, however I also think that might have had as much to do with the heat as anything else. Showalter probably figured that there was no reason to leave Arrieta out there laboring in a game that was looking like it could be a marathon. The Orioles took a 3-1 lead in the last of the first after manufacturing runs for the first time in awhile. They were helped by an Astrubal Cabrera error, however let’s also keep in mind that traffic on the base paths will often cause errors.

Speaking of which, Lou Marson’s pop fly to center was ruled a base hit in the fourth, however a miscommunication between Adam Jones and Ryan Flaherty caused the ball to drop. Cleveland would end up scoring four runs in the inning, finishing with a 5-3 lead and chasing Arrieta. Again, traffic on the base paths will often net you errors and thus potential runs. Robert Andino walked on four consecutive pitches in the last of the fifth, and then was able to steal second base. Brian Roberts sacrificed him to third, and Xavier Avery sacrificed him home. Suddenly the O’s only trailed by one run. The beauty of that again is that it was a manufactured run, and the Orioles didn’t rely on the long ball to score.

However ultimately, it was the long ball for which this game will be remembered  (if it’s “remembered” at all that is). In the last of the sixth Wilson Betemit and Chris Davis both singled to bring Matt Wieters to the plate with two on and one out. Wieters sent the first pitch he was onto Eutaw St, giving the Orioles the lead again at 7-5. So much for working the count and having a productive at-bat, right?! You had the feeling that the tide was turning in the Orioles’ favor, however there was still plenty of unfinished business in this one. Cleveland came right back in the seventh and tied it at seven, helped by consecutive doubles to lead off the inning. However come the last of the seventh, Ryan Flaherty came to the plate with runners at first and second and two down. Had this been two or three days ago, Flaherty probably would have flied out to center or something along those lines. However his two-out single (in the clutch) scored Davis, and gave the Orioles the lead.

The only real drama left in the game at that point was whether or not Xavier Avery would get his first big league home run with his eighth inning at-bat. Go figure, that’s exactly what he did. I commented on twitter at the time that it appeared that Avery was a much better player than a month or so ago when he was with the Orioles the first time. After spending time back in the minors, I feel that he has better plate discipline and better plate coverage. Six weeks ago, he never would have been able to hit that home run because he would have been out in front of the ball and probably sent it over his head for a foul ball.

Cleveland pushed a run across in the ninth inning however Jim Johnson closed the door for the save, and the O’s snapped a three-game losing streak with a 9-8 win. This was a big victory for the Orioles, because they refused to allow the losing streak to get too far along to the point that it became more of a psychological thing than anything else. They now move onto this afternoon’s game, prior to which the Orioles will unveil the Earl Weaver statue in left field as part of their legends celebration. The gates open at 2 PM, and the ceremony starts at 2:15. The game will follow at 4 PM, with Dana Eveland coming out of the bullpen to make the start for the O’s. He’ll be opposed by Cleveland’s Josh Tomlin, who only went three innings in his previous start in NY. He was hurt by the long ball…now that the O’s appear to have found their power stroke again, that might come in handy!

As if the game itself didn’t produce enough thunder and lightning, the Baltimore area was hit with a massive series of thunderstorms following the final out. At first I thought Springsteen had flown in for an impromptu concert, but once I saw the weather I feared it would lift up my car and wash it away. Luckily that didn’t happen, however one can only hope that the storm did wash away the recent struggles of this Baltimore Orioles team.

Follow me on Twitter @DomenicVadala