Baltimore Orioles: Juuuust in the “Nick” of time!


When Brian Roberts hit the first pitch he saw ever as a visitor at Oriole Park at Camden Yards onto the flag court in right field for a home run, you got the feeling that it wasn’t intended to be the Baltimore Orioles’ day. Roberts came up to bat in the top of the second, and there was little to no reaction from the Camden faithful for the former longtime Oriole. That was a bit surprising, and a little disappointing as well. However a moment later Roberts made sure that the fans at least remembered that at-bat, by giving New York a 1-0 lead over his former team.

Miguel Gonzalez was a bit shaky at first; but chalk this up as one of those games whereby a pitcher gets stronger as the game goes along. Gonzalez’s line: 8 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 5 K. Gonzalez gave up two home runs; the aforementioned shot to Roberts, and a third inning solo shot to Kelly Johnson. Obviously if you’re going to give up homers, you’d ideally like for nobody to be on base. However either way that just meant that the Baltimore Orioles would need to score at least three runs to beat New York.

New York starter Hiroki Kuroda started out strong, but as the game went on the Birds started to get to him. That can often happen the second and third time through the order, as guys start seeing what you’re about on that night. Ironically, Kuroda is the only member of the starting rotation that was in the rotation on Opening Day for New York – who’s been riddled with injuries.

Steve Pearce was hit by a pitch in the fourth, and he went to third base on Adam Jones‘ subsequent single. With runners at the corners and nobody out, Kuroda uncorked a wild pitch that scored Pearce and sent Jones to second base. On another wild pitch Jones went to third, and he would score on a sac fly-RBI by Chris Davis. One can look at those two runs and say that the O’s barely had to work to manufacture them given the fact that they came off of two New York mistakes. However when you have guys who can find ways to get on base, simple mistakes will turn into runs.

The pitchers took over from there, nary allowing but a few base runners here and there. The Orioles brought closer Zach Britton on for the ninth inning, as he wouldn’t be needed in a closer’s role that night given the fact that if the O’s were going to win it would be in walk off fashion. T.J. McFarland pitched the tenth, and sent New York down 1-2-3.

Manny Machado led off the tenth inning with a double, putting the winning run in scoring position. Catcher Nick Hundley came to the plate following a Ryan Flaherty strike out, and

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Hundley’s RBI-single scored Machado, and walked the Orioles off with a 3-2 victory.

With the win, the O’s are now guaranteed to be in sole possession of first place in the AL East at the all-star break.

The only “downer” for the Birds yesterday was that they had to put starter Ubaldo Jimenez on the 15-day DL after he twisted his ankle in the parking lot of his apartment building. According to Buck Showalter, it’s just something that will require rest and time off. However I would submit that it’s also a chance for Jimenez to go down to the minors in a rehab assignment and work a bit on his mechanics. If he’s able to regain the form he had in Cleveland in the second half of last season, the Orioles might really be in business for a stretch run. (In a corresponding roster move, the O’s recalled Kevin Gausman.)

The series with New York continues today at 4 PM with Chris Tillman making his final start prior to the all-star break. He’ll be opposed by New York’s Sharie Greene. If you’re wondering who that is…as I said, Kuroda is the only member of their Opening Day rotation who’s still in the rotation.