Many aspects of any game in any sport are things that don’t show up in the box score. The Baltimore Orioles are not a team that’s known for their speed per se. In fact, quite the contrary; it seems that many players run like one would have expected the Queen Mary to run! However Adam Jones is one player who does have the gift of speed – put that together with baseball savoir faire, and it can be a deadly combination.
Chris Tillman didn’t quite have the command we’ve seen him to carry at times, however in fairness Minnesota took a lot of close pitches and fouled a lot of them off. Tillman’s line: 5 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 6 K. Aside from the fact that he only pitched five innings due to a high pitch count, those are pretty decent numbers. Tillman stranded several runners in scoring position throughout his outing, and pitched himself out of various bad situations. Some of those situations were self-inflicted, however others were not – such as Jonathan Schoop bobbling a would-be double play ball at second base. However as I’ve said many times, all pitchers will find their way into trouble; it’s the nature of the position. The good ones will also find their way out of it.
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With runners at first and second an nobody down in the last of the fourth, Jimmy Paredes sent a deep shot to left center that bounced over the wall and into the stands. That scored Chris Davis from second base on the ground rule double, and the O’s had a 1-0 lead. As we found out yesterday morning, Steve Pearce’s MRI results came back as him having only a strained abdominal, and he’ll probably just miss a few games. When Pearce got hurt on Friday night, I tweeted that the O’s had always been a next-man-up type of team. In the limited amount of time we’ve seen him thus far, Jimmy Paredes has typified that. He contributed on Friday, and he netted the team some big runs last night.
Minnesota would tie the game an inning later on a sac fly-RBI by Oswaldo Arcia. However Paredes would come through for the Orioles again in the sixth with a deep liner to left field, which cleared the wall. The home run gave the Orioles the lead back again…until Joe Mauer’s RBI-single in the seventh tied it back up at two.
Adam Jones appeared to be put out at first base (after striking out) in the seventh, however the ball was correctly ruled foul. On the next pitch he was plunked and took his base at first. Jones would subsequently go to third base on Nelson Cruz’s single, exhibiting excellent base running and great speed. And as I said, it’s intangibles as such that helps teams to win games. The box score doesn’t say anything about Jones’ speed, but anyone who saw the game knows about it. Most people are talking about Jimmy Paredes this morning, and with good reason. However in the end it was speed that helped the Orioles along.
Chris Davis would subsequently hit a pop up to medium-depth center field. My personal opinion at the time was that it wasn’t deep
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enough to score Jones. However again, speed can help put you over the top. Jones tagged up and broke for home…scoring thanks to his speed and center fielder Danny Santana’s poor throw. I do think that Santana was caught off guard a bit by Jones tagging up, which may attest for the poor throw. However that run was manufactured all by Jones’ speed and savy. That gave the Orioles the lead, and the victory in the wake of Zach Britton’s 1-2-3 ninth inning.
The Orioles also made a trade during yesterday’s game, sending two minor leaguers to the Chicago White Sox in return for outfielder Alejandro De Aza. He’s capable of playing all three outfield positions, and was hitting .243 with five homers and 31 RBI thus far in 2014. I suspect that De Aza will potentially offer a day off here and there for Nick Markakis, and perhaps solidify the left field slot a bit more. After the game was over the Orioles announced another trade, as they aquired infielder Kelly Johnson and minor leaguer Michael Almanzar from Boston (in exchange for minor leaguers Jermile Weeks and Ivan De Jesus).
Given the injuries that the Orioles have in the infield, I would submit that the aquisition of Johnson might be the biggest one out of all of them. Granted he was only hitting .212 with both Boston and New York this year, he’s a veteran infielder who will definitely help this team as they push towards the postseason. Almanzar of course was a rule 5 pick by the Orioles, who ended up being returned to Boston earlier this year. So now he belongs to the O’s regardless of whether he’s at the big league or minor league level.
The four-game set with Minnesota will continue this afternoon as Wei-Yin Chen will be called back up from the Gulf Coast League Orioles to make the start. Chen of course was only sent down on paper, and he didn’t really miss a start. He’ll be opposed by Ricky Nolasco, with game time being set for just after 1:30 this afternoon.