Baltimore Orioles: Ugly wins count just as much


By the time yesterday’s game ended, all one could really say was that was one heck of a game. It wasn’t pretty and at times it was flat out ugly. But winning ugly is a trait of good teams, and ultimately the idea is to win at all costs. That’s what the Baltimore Orioles did yesterday, in what ended up being a very long afternoon at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Thousands of local school kids packed the yard for yesterday’s day game, as the Orioles celebrated their annual Field Trip Day at the ballpark. Unfortunatey, the kids didn’t get to stick around to see the end of the game, thanks to a two-hour rain delay. Quite frankly, I had my doubts as to whether or not the game would resume at all – but it did.

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Chris Tillman was well on his way to pitching to a decent stat line, but the weather took care of that. Tillman’s line: 3 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 2 K. The three walks over three innings were a concern, but that could have as much to do with the weather as anything else. Both the weather and the long stoppage in play affected both teams, and certainly both starting pitchers.

After Tillman quickly retired Seattle 1-2-3 in the first inning, the Orioles loaded the bases with Steve Pearce coming to the plate. In that situation you’re looking for a base hit to score a couple of runs and to set up the next at-bat with runners in scoring position. Unfortunately Pearce didn’t leave the next hitter with any runners to drive in, as he homered over the left field wall – the first grand slam of his career.

Following a lead off walk to Nelson Cruz (who went to third base on a subsequent single), Wellington Castillo would cut the Orioles’ lead to 4-1 with a sac fly-RBI. However Tillman would retire the next two hitters to get out of the inning. After the top of the third inning, the skies opened up, which prompted crew chief John Hirschbeck to call for the tarp.

The last thing that anyone wants in baseball is a rain delay – especially in a getaway day afternoon game. During the two hour and five minute delay, the aforementioned school kids in attendance got back on their yellow buses and headed back to school. But the faithful waited, and waited…and waited.

When play resumed in the last of the third, Seattle starter J.A. Happ was out of the game. Brian Matusz could also be seen warming up in the Orioles’ bullpen, which indicated that Tillman’s day was done also. Another reality of rain delays is that it shakes up the pitching situation because teams don’t want pitchers to sit for an elongated amount of time, only to warm up again and go back in. Once the delay hits the hour mark or so, generally a pitching change is going to be madeonce play resumes.

Unfortunately for the Orioles, Seattle immediately started chipping away at the lead. Rickie Weeks’ two-RBI single in the fourth inning cut the lead to 4-3. In the seventh inning Darren O’Day had the bases loaded with two outs, and was engaged in an epic battle with Logan Morrison. Unfortunately for O’Day and the O’s, Morrison ended up taking a walk which tied the game at four.

O’Day would go all the way to 3-2 on the next hitter, who struck out to end the inning. In the eighth Tommy Hunter also had the bases loaded (due to an IBB to Nelson Cruz), and took Willie Bloomquist all the way to 3-2 before he grounded out. While Hunter was the one who loaded the bases in the first place, it’s tough not to stress what a great job he did in ending the threat. As I’ve said in the past, by the nature of the position pitchers are going to get themselves in trouble. The decent ones will find their way out of trouble. O’Day did that by minimizing the damange in the seventh, as did Hunter by protecting the tie in the eighth.

Chris Davis opened up the last of the eighth with a single, and he moved to second on Steve Pearce’s sacrifice swinging bunt. That brought J.J. Hardy to the plate as the Orioles looked for a quick out to a long afternoon. And Hardy

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delivered with Davis in scoring position, with an RBI-single up the middle. The Seattle outfield was playing fairly shallow, however Davis was waved around third by Bobby Dickerson in what ended up being a great send. Sometimes you have to take calculated risks like that in close games.

Zach Britton closed Seattle out in the ninth, and the O’s ended up taking two-of-three. Again, this was a pretty ugly game. Part of that was out of the control of either team given the rain delay. But in the end it counts the same in the standings as any other game. And the good news is that the Orioles were the team who improved their positioning in those standings in this series.

The Orioles will now head out for a quick three-game road trip in an interleague series in Miami – Manny Machado’s hometown. Ubaldo Jimenez will get the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Miami’s Henderson Alvarez. Buck Showalter will have to decide how to shake down his lineup for the next three games, as the O’s will surrender their DH to play under NL rules. Jimmy Paredes has been serving exclusively in that role of late – does he find himself in the field or on the bench?

Showalter also said last night that there was a chance they’d have to make a roster move with regard to pitching after yesterday’s game. But it’s unclear if that will be the case now. Game time tonight is set for just after 7 PM.

Next: Baltimore Orioles off to Miami after surviving Cruz visit