Baltimore Orioles strong-arm Tampa
We talk a lot about things beginning and ending with starting pitching. Friday night’s game was kind of the exception to the rule in that the Baltimore Orioles got good quality starting pitching – only to fall 2-0. Last night that seemed to correct itself, as the Birds got a great start out of Miguel Gonzalez to defeat Tampa 4-0. Gonzalez’s line: 7.2 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K.
If you’re keeping track at home, that’s five consecutive quality starts for Orioles’ pitching. This puts less emphasis on the bullpen early in games, which keeps relievers fresh. With the two cancellations this week due to civil unrest, getting the bullpen square in terms of rest was a by-product that came about. Nevertheless, Buck Showalter opted to give Brad Brach a four-out save and avoided using Zach Britton last night, which keeps him fresh for today’s game.
We saw a rare unforced mistake from Adam Jones in the third inning, which might have been Tampa’s best opportunity to score. Kevin Kiermaier hit what appeared to be a single to center field. However Jones seemed to uncharacteristically take his time in getting to the ball, and Kiermaier surprised everyone by turning on the afterburners and making it to second base. Jones’ body language after the play seemed to agknowledge that he had made a mistake, and I suspect it’s not something that will happen again. But Gonzalez pitched out of the inning unscathed, as Manny Machado made a gold glove play fielding a Steven Souza two-out bunt and throwing him out at first base.
Machado would turn around in the last of the third and draw a one-out walk. Nothing good ever happens after a walk, right? From the pitcher’s standpoint, that is. Following a Chris Davis single, Jimmy Paredes came to bat with two outs and singled Machado home which gave the O’s a 1-0 lead. Steve Pearce would then come up, and in his home region smacked a two-RBI double to give the Orioles a 3-0 lead. (Pearce was thrown out trying to advance to third.)
For good measure, Caleb Joseph smacked a solo homer in the last of the sixth to run the score to 4-0. Incidentally, Joseph didn’t just homer – it was a deep one. The ball landed at the back of the left field grandstand at Tropicana Field. The rest of
Courtesy of Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
the game was all Miguel Gonzalez, and eventually Brad Brach. Afterwards Buck Showalter was incredibly impressed with Gonzalez’s outing, as he told Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com:
"He was carrying a couple extra clicks with the fastball. But to be carrying that extra fastball is one thing. It’s having command of it. He got a lot of first-pitch get-me-over breaking-ball strikes, too."
Gonzalez’s fastballs were great last night, but what really struck me were his off speed pitches. He was mixing his changes and breaking balls in very nicely, and he even threw in a few first-pitch sliders that he got over for called strikes. And as good as Tampa starter Chris Archer has been this year, he wasn’t able to fool the Oriole hitters last night.
The series (and the Orioles’ “homestand”) will conclude this afternoon at Tropicana Field with Wei-Yin Chen on the mound for the Birds. He’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Nathan Karns. Game time is set for just after 1:30 PM.
Next: Baltimore Orioles: What to make of the upside-down series?