Buck Showalter first used the term “next man up team” late in 2012 when the Baltimore Orioles lost Nick Markakis to injury. And the fact is that since 2012, that’s been a great way to describe the O’s. And the very definition of a “next man up team” is having a guy filling in for an injured regular lead the team to victory.
So it shouldn’t have been of too much surprise to O’s fans when David Lough‘s three-run homer ended up being the big play in last night’s 6-4 victory over Boston. Lough of course was filling in for the injured Adam Jones in center field, and ended up hitting his first career home run at Fenway Park.
Ubaldo Jimenez had his struggles in last night’s game, but he was able to give the necessary five innings to qualify for the win. Jimenez’s line: 5 IP,6 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 8 K. Jimenez did struggle through that fifth and final inning, mainly due to high pitch count. However also keep in mind that this Boston team fouls a lot of pitches off, and eight strikeouts will help the pitches add up – especially over only five innings.
The Birds loaded the bases on three singles in the second, and then took a 1-0 lead on Ryand Flaherty’s sac fly-RBI. That brought Lough to the plate with runners at first and second; Lough worked the count all the way to 3-2. When Boston starter Joe Kelley hung a pitch, Lough jumped on it and sent it deep to right center. It
Courtesy of Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
cleared the wall, and the O’s took a 4-0 lead on Lough’s three-run homer.
Boston got on the board in the last of the third on Brock Holt‘s fielder’s choice-RBI. To Jimenez’s credit, he was forced to bend on several occasions throughout his start. But he never broke. And each time he had to bend, the O’s picked him back up by tacking on an extra run.
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The O’s and Boston swapped RBI-singles in the fourth, with Jimmy Paredes coming through for the Orioles in the top of the inning. But again, Boston pressured things a bit in the last of the inning and ended up keeping themselves afloat on Pablo Sandoval‘s RBI-single to bring the score to 5-2. One inning later, Boston got to within two after Hanley Ramirez‘s RBI-single. That’s when it appeared that Boston had Jimenez on the ropes. But he got out of the inning, and left the game with the lead.
Manny Machado‘s RBI-double in the sixth ran the lead back up to three runs at 6-3. Once again, the Orioles’ bullpen was stellar in the middle to latter innings. Zach Britton did give up an RBI-double to Dustin Pedroia in the last of the ninth, however he closed out Boston without any further damage, and the Orioles took game one of this series. Inicidentally, Boston manager John Farrell was also ejected just prior to the top of the seventh for arguing balls and strikes.
Again, the “backup” center fielder hitting a three-run home run to lead the team to victory epitomizes the idea of the next man up mentality. That’s not going to happen in every game, however Lough’s been very good in place of Jones – who’s targeting Friday as a potential return date.
If there’s one concern for the Orioles coming out of this game, it might be the number of relievers that they were forced to use. Brad Brach, Chaz Roe, Darren O’Day, and Zach Britton each pitched one inning. Ironically Boston used one reliever less, and they went to their bullpen much earlier. But series’ at Fenway Park will do this to you, so it’s probably not something that Buck Showalter didn’t anticipate.
The series continues tonight with Bud Norris on the mound for the Orioles. Presumably the dimensions at Fenway should be a bit of a challenge for him, but the Birds feel he’s up to it. Norris will be opposed by Clay Buchholz; game time is set for just after 7 PM.