May 31, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Baltimore Orioles left fielder Nelson Cruz (23) connects with the ball during the first inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports

Could Solid Orioles' Win Fuel a Turnaround?


The Baltimore Orioles picked up a win Saturday afternoon in Houston, adding some patient at-bats to the team’s third straight quality start.

Game 54 Baltimore Orioles (27-27) 4 Houston Astros (24-33) 1 F

W: Chris Tillman (5-2, 4.63)

L: Dallas Keuchel (6-3, 2.70)

S: Zach Britton (4, 0.91)

MVP: Nelson Cruz 2-3, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 2B, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 CS

The GOOD: For once, a lot of good to come from this game. Let’s start with the offense.

Nelson Cruz continues to have a monster year. Right now he has to be on a short list of the top AL MVP candidates. He hit his major-league leading 20th home run, and set the Orioles’ team record for RBIs by the end of May with 52. In addition to his home run, he had a sac fly and an RBI on a bases-loaded walk.

Manny Machado also had two hits in this game, even if they were of the infield variety. The Orioles are waiting for Manny to get his stroke back.

J.J. Hardy also had two hits in this game, putting his average back above .300. One of those hits was a double.

In the field, Nick Markakis made a huge play in the second inning that may have saved the game. His running catch on Jose Altuve’s hard-hit ball with the bases loaded helped Chris Tillman get out of a big jam.

Speaking of Tillman, a good start from him. Chris went 6 2/3, left up 4 hits, 2 walks, hit two people (in the second inning), had two wild pitches, and struck out three. Yes you could say Tillman was effectively wild, but he got the job done.

Which brings me to another point. Caleb Joseph may only be 2/27, but it seems like each time he catches the O’s get a pretty good game from their pitchers. Joseph seems to be a real good catcher as far as working with the pitchers.

I would be remiss to not mention how good Ryan Webb has been recently. Webb continues to be lights out, really helping bolster an already good bullpen.

The BAD: David Lough had one at-bat and struck out. At this point, I am beginning to wonder if Francisco Peguero couldn’t do his pinch-hit/pinch-run/reserve outfielder routine better than Lough. David looks lost at the plate.

Chris Davis went 0-4 with two strikeouts. Remember when we all thought CD was back. I think it was a false alarm. The O’s need his bat to help get everything rolling on one cylinder.

The O’s are still struggling offensively. Yes, they scored four runs, but two of those were on bases-loaded walks, one on a sac fly and the other was the best player right now in the AL hitting a home run. The team needs to get better at scoring runs so these quality starts don’t go to waste.

What’s NEXT: The Orioles finish their four-game series against Houston on Sunday at 2.10 at Minute Maid Park.

Wei-Yin Chen (5-2, 4.50) will face former Oriole Scott Feldman (3-2, 3.02). The Birds have a chance to even the series and climb back above .500 for the year.

Tags: Baltimore Orioles Chris Tillman Nelson Cruz Nick Markakis Ryan Webb