Baltimore Orioles flying free on Chris Davis’ bat for one night
There have been very few games this season for the Baltimore Orioles which have not been close – be them wins or losses. For one night at least, the O’s didn’t have to worry about the drama of whether or not the bullpen would hold a lead or anything of that sort. Granted the Orioles’ pen is rock solid, but ultimately as we know even the best relievers get tripped up on occasion. Instead the Orioles found themselves flying free on the bat of their newly re-positioned first baseman – more on that in a moment.
Miguel Gonzalez turned in his second consecutive solid start since returning from triple-A Norfolk last weekend. Gonzalez’s line: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 6 K. There wasn’t much that wasn’t working for Gonzalez last night, and the Orioles offensively took advantage of that. Over the months of the season we’ve seen plenty of games in which the starter has turned in a quality start, only to have the bats not produce. That wasn’t the case in this game.
Jimmy Paredes, who had replaced the injured Steve Pearce (again, more on that later on), led off the fourth inning with an infield single. The Baltimore Orioles have always had a next man up mentality, so it shouldn’t be lost on fans that Paredes started this rally. Minnesota proceeded to hit both Adam Jones and Nelson Cruz in succession, which drew an icy stare from manager Buck Showalter. I’m not one to assume that a random HBP in a game is intentional, but I have noticed that both Jones and Cruz seem to get plunked a bit more often than other hitters. J.J. Hardy would draw a bases loaded walk, and the O’s led 1-0.
However needless to say, Minnesota paid dearly a moment later for loading the bases. Chris Davis came to the plate and with starter
Courtesy of Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
Trevor May on the ropes he swung for the downs on a 3-1 pitch…and connected. And when I say he connected…he CONNECTED! Davis’ grand slam put the Orioles ahead 5-0.
With the way Gonzalez was pitching and the strength of the Oriole bullpen, one could almost hear a deep announcers’ voice saying, this concludes the competitive portion of tonight’s game.
Adam Jones would add an RBI-single in the fifth, and Delmon Young would also add a two-run homer later in the inning that was upheld by instant replay. I will say that in my personal opinion that play should have been ruled fan interference. In fact, I can’t quite grasp how it’s possible that the umpires didn’t reverse the call, and Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire commented on this fact profusely after the game. But it ultimately goes down as a home run, and it gave the O’s an 8-0 lead. An inning later Jonathan Schoop would double home Chris Davis, and in the seventh Trevor Plouffe would add a solo homer to account for Minnesota’s lone run in the Orioles’ 9-1 victory.
As I said, there wasn’t much drama in this one down the stretch. And that’s a good thing now and again for the O’s. Not every game has to be a nail bitter; the fact is that we know this team is battle tested and can win games under incredible pressure and long odds at times. So this game gave them the chance to sit back and relax a bit, as they found themselves flying free following that grand slam off the bat of Chris Davis.
The one concern for the Orioles coming out of this game was Steve Pearce, who left the game after three innings with a right abdominal strain. It’s an injury that’s apparently been bothering Pearce all week, and he was lifted for precautionary reasons. While he was careful to say that it wasn’t too painful or anything along those lines, the Orioles did schedule a 9:30 AM MRI for Pearce today.
As I said, the Orioles have always been a next man up type of team, and this is illustrated by the fact that Jimmy Paredes’ base hit was what sparked the Orioles’ rally in the fourth inning. Paredes was inserted at third base, which moved Chris Davis back over to first. Pearce and the Orioles are hoping that this is a short term injury, however if he has to miss considerable time Paredes appears to be a decent replacement. And if all else fails September call ups come in two days.
The Orioles will spend Saturday night on “Tillman Island,” as Chris Tillman heads to the bump against Minnesota. He’ll be opposed by Kyle Gibson, with game time set for just after 7 PM this evening.