Baltimore Orioles: Closer-than-necessary wins count


The Baltimore Orioles asked Miguel Gonzalez to play the role of stopper last night in the sense that they needed to stop a modest two-game losing streak. Gonzalez did everything that was asked of him and then some, turning in perhaps the best outing from an Oriole starter of 2015. At the very least, it was on par with that of Ubaldo Jimenez this past Saturday night. Gonzalez’s line: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 10 K.

The ten strikeouts are what stand out at me; Gonzalez was dealing from the very beginning of last night’s game, and he wasted little time. New York hitters spent so much time trying to figure Gonzalez out, they didn’t see to notice that the ball was sailing by them for strike three on various occasions.

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Courtesy of Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

The Orioles took an early lead on another home run by Adam Jones. While it was a solo shot, there’s no denying that Jones has started this season white hot – with four homers on the year already, all four of which have come on this homestand. Jones would contribute in other ways as well, giving the Orioles a 2-0 lead on a sac fly-RBI in the last of the third. One inning later, Caleb Joseph would add an RBI-single and the O’s held a 3-0 lead.

New York would chip away slightly on Mark Teixiera’s RBI-double in the sixth, however Everth Cabrera would add another sac fly-RBI in the last of the seventh. So the way this game was going,  the O’s seemed to be cruising…right? For a moment there, they were…but even in an apparently weakened form, these are still the New York Yankees.

New York put runners at the corners with one down in the eighth, and Carlos Beltran would ground into a Fielder’s Choice-RBI. That would leave a runner at second base with two outs, however the inning appeared to be over when Teixeira sent a fairly deep (but playable) shot to left field. Alejandro De Aza circled the ball, and appeared to have it…until he didn’t. The ball careemed off of his glove, allowing Beltran to score and putting Teixeira on second base.

That’s a tough error at perhaps the worst possible moment of the game on De Aza’s part. As Buck Showalter often says however, we’re dealing with human beings here. Guys are going to make mistakes. However needless to say, that additional run and additional out gave New York the momentum right when they wanted it, and left an uneasy feeling at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

I would submit that much of the reason that New York has been so good for so many decades is due to being able to pounce at just the right moment as such. However Zach Britton ensured that one of the current New York players didn’t become the next Bucky Dent or Aaron Boone.

Britton was called upon to record a four-out save (a first for him), as Showalter reluctantly lifted Kevin Gausman (who gave up the one earned run, but had otherwise gotten out of the inning if not for the error). Britton recorded the first two outs in quick manner, before having to go through the pinch-hitting bat of Alex Rodriguez, who grounded out to short to end the game in a 4-3 Oriole victory.

Putting the error aside for a moment, the Orioles won this game thanks to Adam Jones’ hot hitting once again, and the arm of Miguel Gonzalez. Lost in the stat sheet is the fact that Gonzalez struck out the side in the seventh, which was his final inning in the game. As Buck Showalter pointed out after the game, Jones also saved a run with a running catch in the first inning before giving the O’s the lead with his first inning home run.

The series concludes tonight at Camden Yards with Bud Norris on the mound for the Birds. He’ll be opposed by Nathan Eovaldi. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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