Baltimore Orioles sweep the Detroit Tigers
By Brian Barr
Break out the brooms. For the second series in a row the Baltimore Orioles have completed a sweep. The Orioles walked off the Detroit Tigers in 10 innings when Adam Frazier, who entered the game for Ramon Urias as the ghost runner in the bottom of the 10th inning, scurried home from third on a wild pitch. This series showed everyone that the Orioles are a legitimate threat.
We already knew that the Orioles could hit. The Birds are currently averaging over five runs per game and plenty of Orioles have put up big numbers offensively. However, the O's have recently shown how balanced of a team they truly are. The Orioles have now won six straight games while only allowing three total runs in the last five games.
With the Orioles coming off back to back shutouts of the Nationals, Tyler Wells, Kyle Gibson and Grayson Rodriguez kept the good times rolling while combining to pitch 18.1 innings against the Tigers, accumulating 22 strikeouts while only allowing one run. Wells had a career day pitching a career high 7.0 innings and striking out five, while only allowing three hits and one walk. Gibson looked dominant in his fifth start of the season tying his career high with 11 strikeouts in game two. In game three GrayRod continued to improve. For the first time is Rodriguez's four starts he did not walk the first batter he faced. Instead, Akil Baddoo singled off Rodriguez to lead off the game however Rodriguez then struck out the side. GrayRod finished the day with six strikeouts while not allowing a run in 5.0 innings.
The bullpen pitched well with strong outings by Yennier Cano, Bryan Baker and Danny Coulombe. Felix Bautista uncharacteristically blew the save in game one of the series but redeemed himself with a perfect ninth inning in game three including two strikeouts. The Orioles also welcomed Keegan Akin back from the paternity list. Akin made his baby boy proud when he came in to pitch the tenth inning of game three. Akin did issue two intentional walks to right handed batters, with the Orioles preferring to match Akin against left handed batters. But the strategy paid off when Akin retired all three batters he pitched to without allowing the ghost runner to score and earned his first win of the season.
Even with the entire Orioles pitching staff pitching well, the top pitching performance of the series came from the other Rodriguez who started on Sunday. Eduardo Rodriguez was perfect against a tough Orioles lineup through 6.2 innings until Ryan Mountcastle hit a clean single to left field on an 0-2 pitch. Rodriguez finished the inning with no further damage but left the game after that inning. The Orioles never panicked and continued their patient approach forcing Rodriguez to throw 95 pitches in those seven innings.
The Birds bats did cool off a bit in this series but they came to life when it mattered most. The O's won game one 2-1 when Mountcastle was able to sprint home from third on a ground ball from Adam Frazier, narrowly beating Spencer Torkelson's throw to the plate. Game two the bats came to life, highlighted by Ramon Urias' three RBI double as part of a four run third inning, and James McCann's first Oriole homerun in the fourth. In game three Anthony Santander came in as a pinch hitter for Ryan McKenna in the eighth inning and doubled, scoring Jorge Mateo, who's hip looked very healthy as he sprinted all the way home from first base to time the game.
Then, with Frazier running for Urias in the tenth, Terrin Vavra pinch hit for McCann and put down a sacrifice bunt to get Frazier to third. Frazier scored on the first pitch to Mateo when Tigers catcher Jake Rogers, was unable to catch the pitch cleanly. The Tigers will be looking for revenge when the Orioles head to Detroit for a four game series April 27-30.
Speaking of revenge, the Orioles will be looking for some of their own when the Boston Red Sox make their way to Camden Yards April 24-26. The Orioles played the Red Sox to open the season and hit the ball extremely well scoring 23 runs in those three games in Boston. Unfortunately the Orioles pitching was not able to keep pace and allowed nine runs in each of the three games. The O's are now 14-7 and second place in the American League East while the Red Sox are still above .500 at 12-11 but sit in the AL East basement. Both teams will be looking to make a statement with this series.