Last winter at FanFest I told a fan that Dariel Alvarez was going to be a name to watch for the Baltimore Orioles this season. I was expecting Alvarez to be with the big league club well before now, however he finally made his debut last night against Texas, going 0-for-3. While he probably would have hoped to have come out of his first big league game with a hit, he and the rest of his teammates ran into some buzzsaw pitching last night in the form of Cole Hamels.
On the other hand, Kevin Gausman‘s outing was better than his stat line indicated. While he gave up four runs, he shut down Texas for much of the night. Gausman’s line: 6.2 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 3 K. Anyone who reads this column on a regular basis knows that I love to harp on the quality start idea (minimum of six innings pitched and a maximum of three runs surrendered). So statistically this was not a quality start for Gausman – but he kept the O’s in a position to win.Courtesy of Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
As has been the case for some time, it was the bats that didn’t come through. The Birds were 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position, a problem because they couldn’t get a hit in that situation as well as because they only had three opportunities. The lone inning in which the O’s appeared poised to do anything offensively was the third. After a double and two walks, Chris Davis was able to draw a third base on balls (with the bases loaded) and the Orioles took a 1-0 lead.
Unfortunately the O’s were only able to push across the one run, as Hamels bent but didn’t break. Gausman later gave up solo homers to Choo (in the fourth), and Giminez (in the fifth) as Texas took a 2-1 lead. Choo would also ground into a fielders choice-RBI in the fifith, and DeShields’ RBI-triple in the last of the seventh would give Texas a 4-1 lead – from which they never looked back.
I mentioned the term quality start above – and it was entirely possible that Gausman could have qualified for one if not for a slight mishap in the infield. On Choo’s aforementioned fielders choice, Davis fielded the ball at first base and opted to try to turn the 3-6-3 double-play. However Choo outran the ball at first base, keeping the inning going and allowing the run to score. Davis had an opportunity to nail the runner at home plate, but instead tried to end the inning. All things still being equal (which I recognize is always a tough sell), the Birds still would have lost.
There were two big defensive moments in this game, both of which were on the Orioles’ side. With Beltre at third and one down, Andrus lined out to Dariel Alvarez in medium-depth right field. Beltre tagged up at third, and Alvarez threw him out at home plate with cold precision. One inning later Prince Fielder singled to center, and Jones threw him out trying to extend it into a double. Jones saw that the ball was going to hit off the wall, and purposely appeared to slow up – deaking Fielder into thinking he could cruise into second base – not so!
Regardless of how he looked at the plate, Alvarez showed Orioles fans how electrifying of a player he can be in the field. And that most certainly should put a smile on Buck Showalter’s face. That was a big league play that he made in nailing the runner at home plate, and it’s moments like that to which Orioles fans can look forward in the future.