Baltimore Orioles: Davis, Brach, O’Day big on Tillman Island


The Baltimore Orioles came into yesterday’s game at Fenway Park with an injury situation and a depleted bullpen. The latter of those two issues of course stemmed from Friday night’s game in which Ubaldo Jimenez was unceremoniously ejected, causing the Birds to go to their pen more early and more often than originally planned. (My understand also is that manager Buck Showalter had a rather spirited conversation with MLB’s Joe Torre regarding that situation yesterday morning.)

The second of those issues regards second baseman Jonathan Schoop, who tripped over first base Friday night – tearing his PCL muscle and straining his MCL. Schoop was sent to the 15-day DL prior to the game, and the timetable for his return is unknown. The Orioles activated Jimmy Paredes to take his spot on the roster; so thus far, the depth that was acquired by Dan Duquette is paying off. Incidentally, Paredes went 2-for-5 yesterday with a double.

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So the Orioles needed a good outing by Tillman, and while it was shorter than they would have liked I would submit that they got it. Tillman’s line: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 5 K. Tillman had fairly decent stuff yesterday, he just ended up in several elongated at-bats where Boston hitters were fouling pitches off left and right. Tillman also had to spend extra time in the dugout because Boston starter Clay Buchholz spent approximately a year in between each pitch. Needless to say, the game was one of the longer pitcher’s duels I’ve seen.

Offensively the O’s left a small army (10) of men on base, which put more pressure on Tillman. They were, however 3-for-9 with RISP, although some of those hits didn’t yield runs. The Orioles took a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning when Manny Machado grounded into a fielder’s choice-RBI with two runners in scoring position, scoring Adam Jones from third. On Buchholz’s next pitch Caleb Joseph plated Jimmy Paredes, and the O’s led 2-0.

You can never have enough runs in a park like Fenway, and the Birds missed a golden opportunity to add more on in the fifth when they had the bases loaded and nobody out. Manny Machado hit a tapper to first baseman Mike Napoli, who began a 3-2-3 double-play. Granted the law of averages says that if Machado puts the ball in play there it’s going to yield at least one run, however that’s the type of situational at-bat where things need to improve for the Orioles moving forward this season.

Boston would score their lone run as Pablo Sandoval reached on a fielding error by Tillman in the sixth, scoring a runner from third. Tillman eventually would depart after recording one out in the inning, yielding to Brad Brach who entered with one out and runners on first and second. Brach would not only induce a ground ball double-play, but he would pitch the seventh inning as well. With two outs and a runner on second, Brach struck out Dustin Pedroia to end the inning and the Boston threat.

Darren O’Day replaced Brach in the eighth, and began by walking David Ortiz. However Hanley Ramirez hit into a double-play, and O’Day then proceeded to strike out Pablo Sandoval to send the game into the ninth inning. If anything, the pressure is more on the visitor when they take a 2-1 lead into the ninth inning at Fenway. Funny things seem to happen when Boston gets their last at-bat in front of those fans with that green wall behind them. So what the Orioles desperately needed was a cushion to alleviate some of that pressure.

Courtesy of Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

So that’s exactly what they dialed up. Steve Pearce singled with one out, bringing Chris Davis to the plate. Davis worked a 3-1 count, and then unloaded a deep shot towards that aforementioned green wall off of Boston reliever Robbie Ross. The question was whether or not the ball would clear the wall, however once it did the O’s had a 4-1 lead. Zach Britton retired Boston 1-2-3 in the last of the ninth for his fourth save of the season, and the Orioles were victorious at “the Fens.”

While the box score says that Davis is the big hero of the day (and without a doubt he’s one of them), the unsung heros of the game are Brad Brach and Darren O’Day. They not only held the Orioles over in this game to bridge the gap from Tillman until the ninth, but they recorded outs which saved Buck Showalter from having to get someone else up. And someone who would have probably been tired from Friday at that.

This was also the first game of the young season where the Orioles’ bullpen didn’t yield a run. Buck Showalter doesn’t seem to be losing confidence in the pen, that is if his comments to MASNsports’ Roch Kubatko are any indication:

"It was big for us as a team. They’ve done too many things as a group to just start casting some doubts after 10 or 12 games. They’ll reach back. They’ve got some strong leadership down there in Darren and Dom (Chiti) and don’t think they’re going to wallow around in woe is me."

Showalter would go on to say that the O’s will probably not have to make a roster move for the bullpen prior to this afternoon’s game, presumably due to the bridge job Brach and O’Day did in the 6th, 7th, and 8th. In short, one could call this a true “team win.”

The series at Fenway continues this afternoon with Miguel Gonzalez on the mound for the Orioles. He’ll be opposed by Boston’s Rick Porcello, with game time set for just after 1:30 PM.

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