When you’re mired in a five-game losing streak, you tend to look for some sort of positives. One of them for the Baltimore Orioles is that Miguel Gonzalez pitched six complete innings last night. Gonzalez’s line: 6 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 1 K. Gonzalez had his share of struggles, however he certainly pitched well enough for the Orioles to win the game. He was also the first Oriole starter to pitch six innings since he himself did it back on April 14th.
Gonzalez only issued one free pass, but even that came back to hurt the Birds. Even though the O’s haven’t executed during this losing streak, they’ve also run into some hot pitching – such as Rick Porcello of Boston last night. Porcello pitched a perfect game into the fourth, and actually struck out five of the first six Orioles that he faced.
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The perfecto was broken up in the last of the fourth when Manny Machado sent a hot liner up the middle for a base hit. That brought the hot-swinging Jimmy Paredes to the plate, and a moment later the 0-0 tie was broken as well. Paredes sent a deep shot towards the flag court in right field, and as the ball became a souvenir the Orioles took a 2-0 lead.
However as MASN analyst and Orioles Hall of Famer Rick Dempsey says, nothing good happens after a walk. Gonzalez recorded two quick outs in the fifth only to issue a two-out walk (his only of the game) to Mookie Betts. Dustin Pedroia added a single, and Boston covered the corners. However even with David Ortiz striding to the plate, there was still a good chance that the O’s could get out of the inning unscathed given the fact that there were two outs. However it was not to be, as Ortiz homered to right. To top it off, Hanley Ramirez (the next hitter) decided to homer as well, and Boston led 4-2.
However keep in mind that the Fighting Showalters are nothing else if not resilant. (And incidentally, while this five-game losing streak is a concern that’s the reason why Orioles fans shouldn’t worry too much.) After losing a lead, many teams of yesteryear would just wither away for the remainder of the night. But that was not to be for this team.
The Orioles of course had called up Rey Navarro from triple-A Norfolk earlier in
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the day after sending Ryan Flaherty to the DL with a strained groin. Navarro had played in the neighborhood of 800 games in the minor leagues, and he made his big league debut last night for the Birds at second base. And the early returns were very good. After the O’s lost the lead, Navarro hit a liner to left field, that was misplayed by Hanley Ramirez and ruled a hit – Navarro’s first as a big leaguer. And that sparked a mini-rally, as Navarro scored on Everth Cabrera‘s RBI-single to cut the Boston lead to 4-3.
Cabrera would also tie the game for the O’s in the seventh with a sac fly-RBI. That of course put Gonzalez off the hook for the loss, and it reset the game. The Orioles would end up in a two-out bases loaded situation with Machado coming to the plate later in the inning. Machado worked the count to 3-2, and sat on a fastball at the end. He got that fastball, however he swung through it and ended the inning with a strikeout.
Brian Matusz was brought in to face Pablo Sandoval in the last of the eighth (after Tommy Hunter recorded two quick outs). Matusz walked Sandoval (nothing good happens after a walk), and Buck Showalter went to Darren O’Day. That prompted Boston manager John Farrell to pinch hit Allen Craig, who reached on a Manny Machado fielding error. It was a bouncy ground ball, that trickled under Machado’s glove; I was a bit surprised they gave him an error on the play, however it was a play that Manny would normally make. After the game, Machado spoke with MASNsports’ Steve Melewski about the error:
"I’m guarding the line and just trying to make an out. You know how it goes after an error, here comes a big shot. It happened, but we try to battle and keep grinding. It’s part of the game and we have to keep our heads up and go get them tomorrow."
Almost predictable, Boston’s Brock Holt came up following Craig and smacked a three-run homer which effectively ended the game. While Chris Davis added a solo shot in the last of the eighth to close the gap to 7-5, that’s as close as the Orioles could get.
In the past this team’s been marked by the fact that they didn’t walk people and they played good defense. Right now they’re going through a stretch whereby those things are happening. Now in fairness, the O’s only walked two hitters last night, which is actually very decent if you think about it. However both of those walks came in to score – the final one of course being the most important.
I wouldn’t worry so much about the walks and errors as I would what happens after those things. There’s no difference in terms of the effect if you walk someone or give up a base hit. However it’s what you do to deal with the base runner that makes a difference between winning and losing. And the same is true of errors. If the Orioles can deal with miscues in games better, they’ll start winning again.
The series continues this evening at Camden Yards with Wei-Yin Chen on the mound. The Orioles are in need of a stopper, and their hope is that tonight it’s Chen. He’ll be opposed by Justin Masterson, with game time set for just after 7 PM.