Baltimore Orioles: Saturday night fever at the yard
Going into last night’s game many of the questions surrounding the Baltimore Orioles had to do with whether or not they were overmatched against their AL East division foe, Toronto. Much of the sports talk around town yesterday had that same theme; what if that 12-5 loss on Friday was in reality the Orioles being exposed? Part of the beauty of baseball is that you play again the next day. And often times, results can reverse themselves.
Ubaldo Jimenez might have pitched his best outing as an Orioles in last night’s game. Jimenez’s line: 7.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K. Yes folks, that’s a one-hitter (over seven innings, that is) and an 8:1 strikeout to walk ratio. I think that Orioles fans would have taken Jimenez pitching well enough to win the game, but instead what they got was a game in which he turned in perhaps a career performance. Jimenez walked off the mound after the seventh inning to a rousing ovation from the fans, causing him to say this to MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli after the game:
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"It felt great. Every time I was pounding the strike zone, they were very excited. We got our first win at home; [it] feels great."
Whereas the Orioles trailed from the beginning on Friday, the inverse was true
Courtesy of Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
last night. After Jimenez disposed of Toronto in the top of the first, Alejandro De Aza led off with a solo home run. That was followed up by a moon shot the opposite way to left field by Chris Davis, his first home run of the season. So if you’re keeping score at home, that’s two in home team’s column before some folks in the crowd had even settled down.
With two runners on and nobody out in the last of the third Chris Davis came to bat again – this time sending a shallow liner to right. The runner was held at third out of respect to the arm of Jose Bautista, who promptly gunned the ball home. That brought Adam Jones to the plate with the bases loaded. Jones’ bat was probably a little happy as he swung at the first pitch, grounding into a double play – and scoring the Orioles’ third run of the game. However keep in mind that on Friday Toronto was lauded for using their outs to create additional runs; that’s precisely what Jones did in the third inning last night.
Jones came up to bat again in the last of the fifth, sending a base hit to left field – followed by both Travis Snider and Manny Machado walking to load the bases. That brought Jonathan Schoop to the plate, once again with the bases loaded and nobody out. Toronto reliever Todd Redmond gave him one right down the middle on a 1-1 count, and Schoop didn’t hesitate…
…from the beginning, everyone in the ballpark knew it was gone. However I’m not sure that anyone knew how far it would fly. Schoop’s homer went to the back of the first section of seats in left field. It was his first career grand slam, and perhaps more importantly it opened the game wide open. Schoop is turning into the power hitter that the Orioles knew he could be from the beginning, and he showed that in a big way last night.
Toronto’s lone run came in the ninth inning on Edwin Encarnacion‘s infield RBI-single. But the big story of last night’s game was Jimenez, who as i said might have pitched his best game as an Oriole last night. Many folks correctly pointed out on Friday that Bud Norris struggled in the spring, and that seemed to continue into the regular season. But the inverse is true with Jimenez, and you really have to tip your cap to him knowing how hard he worked in spring training to get to where he proved he was last night.
Many people wanted to paint Toronto as world beaters and the Orioles as being in trouble after Friday’s game, and perhaps with good reason. But as I’ve said in the past, you can’t follow baseball the way you do football. a 162-game season is a true marathon, and things can change at the drop of a dime. Incidentally, if you take one positive from Friday’s game it would have to be that Oriole bats actually had some pop. That continued last night.
Prior to the game the Orioles placed reliever Wesley Wright on the DL, and brought up knuckler Eddie Gamboa to take his roster spot. (If Gamboa gets into a game it’ll be his big league debut.) Wright is suffering from a shoulder strain, and had been feeling pain for a few days according to Buck Showalter. Gamboa’s stay with the Orioles could be short, as David Lough will play in two rehab games starting today. The plan is for him to come off the DL after that, potentially making Gamboa the corresponding roster move. That would give the Orioles a full bench and bullpen.
The series with Toronto concludes this afternoon at Camden Yards, with Chris Tillman on the mound for the O’s. He’ll be opposed by Toronto’s Drew Hutchinson, with game time set for just after 1:30 PM.