Series Results: 2-1 Orioles
The Birds’ bats continued to stay hot in the Texas heat. After scoring nine runs on Sunday in Houston, the off day didn’t cool them off any, as the O’s managed 20 runs in the three-game set in Arlington. Nick Markakis had six hits in the series, including two home runs. Adam Jones also added two dingers and drove in six. Chris Davis’ bat is showing signs of life, as the big slugger managed at least one hit in every game of the series, going 4/11 with a home run, two RBI, and three walks. Unfortunately, it still looks like Crush is trying to pull everything, for some reason. In addition, his reaction to his teammates giving him the silent treatment is just another in a long line of great memories Davis has given O’s fans.
Nelson Cruz added four hits and three RBI over the first two games, including this monster home run.
As a squad, the O’s racked up 38 hits in the series, and are now tied with the Rangers for the AL lead in batting average at .268.
Ubaldo Jimenez was able to escape several precarious jams on Tuesday night, ultimately turning in 5.2 innings of one-run ball. His four walks still left a bit to be desired, but those five strikeouts were huge. Unfortunately for Ubaldo, the O’s didn’t explode on the scoreboard until he left the game, and Brian Matusz had allowed the Rangers to tie the game and cost Jimenez the win.
As a whole, the bullpen was strong. T.J. McFarland, Darren O’Day, and Zach Britton combined for four scoreless innings on Wednesday, with Britton picking up his fifth save. On Thursday, Matusz, McFarland, Brad Brach, and Ryan Webb combined to allow 0 ER in 6.2 innings pitched. Matusz, however, allowed two unearned runs, though he deserved a better fate.
Chris Tillman. Woof.
The O’s de facto “Ace” has been anything but lately. For the second time in his last four starts, Tillman was unable to record an out in the second inning, allowing five ER on six hits and three walks in just an inning plus. Through his first four starts, Tillman had an ERA of 1.71, but over the last nine, it’s ballooned to 5.20, and he’s now allowed 20 ER in just 14.1 IP in his last four outings.
There has been talk that Tillman has been dealing with some groin pain. It might be time for him to take a time out on the disabled list.
While Bud Norris was better than Tillman, he still only managed to get through five innings in his start, allowing five earned runs – all five of which came on two swings off the bat of Adrian Beltre, who hit a three-run and a two-run HR off Bud.
Entering Thursday’s game J.J. Hardy had only one multi-error game in his entire career, that coming in 2007 on a night where he committed two. Thursday is a night Hardy would like to quickly forget. The Birds battled back from an early 5-0 deficit (see: Tillman, Chris) to tie the game headed into the late innings. With the score still locked up in the bottom of the seventh, Texas rookie Rougned Odor hit a ball to the hole that Hardy flagged down. His throw skipped over Davis’ glove at first, giving Odor not just the single to lead off the frame, but an extra base as well. That was Hardy’s second error on the night (his first did not result in a Texas run).
With Odor having moved to third with one out, the Birds drew the infield in. Matusz induced a ground ball from Elvis Andrus, and O’s fans breathed a sigh of relief as the ball was rolling right toward Hardy. However, instead of getting the out to set up the very favorable matchup of Matusz vs. Mitch Moreland with the score tied, a runner on third, and two outs, the unbelievable happened: a THIRD error by Hardy.
The shortstop bobbled the grounder, allowing Odor to score and break the tie. The Rangers would add another two runs to take an 8-5 lead, ultimately winning 8-6 to avoid the sweep.
O’s fans shouldn’t worry about Hardy, who quadrupled his error output for the season on one night, going from one to four. It’s just unfortunate that they occurred in such a close ballgame, instead of say, the 8-3 blowout a few nights prior.
After starting their 10-game road trip quite ominously at 1-4, it has to be considered a small victory to have closed it out 5-5. The bats are finally coming alive and the Orioles offense looks like the one we all expected to see coming into 2014. With the weather in Baltimore (finally) heating up, here’s hoping that a summer of baseballs flying out of OPACY courtesy of the good guys is in store.
The O’s couldn’t have picked a better time to start hitting either, as things certainly don’t get any easier. Their struggles to hit the ball at home so far this year have been well documented, and that’s a trend that’s going to have to change, quickly. The upcoming 10-game homestand sees the two teams that are tied for the most wins in the AL (and second-most in baseball), the Oakland Athletics and Toronto Blue Jays, visit Baltimore, sandwiched around three against the Boston Red Sox, who are 7-3 over their last 10.
The Birds can ill afford to have a losing record over these next 10, but it certainly won’t be an easy road to victories.
Buckle up, Birdland.