Baltimore Orioles hold on to win


One of the problems with getting out to an early lead in any game is that there’s a lot of time for the opponent to catch up – if they’re ready and willing. Unfortunately for the Baltimore Orioles, they were playing just such an opponent last night in Tampa. The Birds went through a bit of stormy weather at Tropicana Field before all was said and done, however they employed a bend but don’t break strategy and came out in front at the end.

Wei-Yin Chen made his first start of the season, but probably not with the results he would have liked. Chen’s line: 4.1 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 4 K. I’ve said this many times in the past, however pitchers are going to have ten good starts, ten bad, and ten in between over the course of a season. Chalk this one up as in between. Chen didn’t have his good stuff, but he certainly didn’t stink it up either. Buck Showalter pulled him when he did due to a high pitch count, which was the net result of a few long at-bats.

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The Orioles got the first two runners on base to start the game, and Travis Snider proceded to give them a 1-0 lead with an RBI-single. Snider an Alejandro De Aza (who hit lead off again) have both been very pleasant surprises thus far for the Orioles, which I know is making fans feel a lot more comfortable in terms of Nick Markakis’ absence.

Adam Jones would add a two-RBI double to centerfield, and Manny Machado would tack on a sac fly-RBI to give the O’s a 4-0 lead on Tampa starter Nathan Karns right out of the gate. An inning later, Steve Pearce would add a two-run home run, and the Birds held a 6-0 lead. However the issue then became that the O’s had trouble scoring for the remainder of the game, as Pearce would tell’s Brittany Ghiroli after the game:

"We struck early. We put some runs on the board. I’m glad we did that because we came to a halt. And they made a great comeback and it’s just another typical O’s-Rays game."

Courtesy of Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

I said this last year, but Tampa really wears out your pitching – as Chen and later Kevin Gausman found out. However their pitchers also seem to wear out your hitters, and the net result is the appearance of tired bats. Tampa would net a run on a Steven Souza RBI-groundout in the third, and an inning later Logan Forsythe would put his team right back in the game with a two-run homer. Tampa would finally chase Chen in the fifth, and Buck Showalter opted to use Kevin Gausman in the role of longman…

…and while he gave up a two-run homer to Kevin Kiermaier in the sixth, he served well in that role. Gausman created a mini-storyline in that sixth inning when he hit 100 and 101 MPH on the radar gun. That’s certainly noteworthy for a pitcher, and it’s worth a mention. However Gausman also needs to be careful; throwing too much gas this early in his career could spell trouble down the road. However needless to say, Gausman created a stir for a few moments in hitting

Courtesy of John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

triple digits on the radar gun.

We also saw Darren O’Day hold the Orioles over in the last of the seventh, and the eighth innings, which bridge us to the ninth. Showalter brought in closer Zach Britton, despite having thrown 19 pitches on Monday to close out the game. Britton went deep into each count, but ended up striking out the side – each time using a pretty nasty fastball (in terms of location) for strike three.

Many fans might look at this game and say that the O’s were lucky to hold on and win since Tampa seemed to have the momentum from the second inning on. And there’s some truth to that for sure. However as I said, they employed a bend but don’t break strategy. The Orioles were also thrilled to have Chris Davis back in the lineup, his 25-game suspension having been completed after Monday’s game. Davis was the DH last night, going 0-for-3 but getting on base as a hit batsman, but for him it was all about being back in a big league game. Buck Showalter expects to play him at first base tonight.

The Orioles will close their series in Tampa and finally head home tonight. Miguel Gonzalez will make his first start of the season for the Orioles tonight, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Jake Odorizzi. Showalter said before yesterday’s game that he was thinking about starting Ryan Lavarnway behind the plate tonight, but that decision hadn’t been made as of the Orioles leaving the park last night. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Orioles try to stay away from Zach Britton also this evening, given that he worked two very tough ninth innings in as many days. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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