May 31, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado (13) fields a ground ball during the sixth inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Orioles: Tillman and Markakis Lead O’s Back to Victory


The Baltimore Orioles were led back into the victory column by their foundation players and by a combination of doing all the right things in the right way.

After the Birds endured a frustrating series of four consecutive losses, Chris Tillman turned the momentum around completely—both for himself and for the team. A strong 6.2 innings of four-hit ball with only a run allowed kept the Orioles in the game until the offense could produce enough for the 4-1 victory over the Houston Astros.

The Orioles scored first, and did so in the way one likes to see—the way of solid baseball. Nick Markakis led off the game with a double, took third on a Steve Pearce grounder to the right side behind the runner, and then scored on the sac fly to center by Nelson Cruz.

After the Astros had tied the game in the second inning and were threatening for more—having the bases loaded and two out—Markakis ran down a fly ball to the right-field wall that likely saved three runs … and the game. Manny Machado and Pearce also contributed stellar plays.

The second and third Orioles runs came in a fashion practically unheard of for this team. They were patient enough at the plate to score twice in the fifth inning on back-to-back bases-loaded walks to Pearce and Cruz. The Orioles have the fewest walks in all of baseball, so this was gratifying to see.

Nelson Cruz is on pace for a 60-homer season

The final run was scored in more typical Baltimore Orioles fashion, as Nelson Cruz hit a screaming liner out of the park in left field for his 20th homer of the season. He has 52 RBIs now, and with the season one-third complete is on pace to hit 60 bombs and drive in 156. Anybody think it is impossible?  By comparison, Chris Davis hit his 20th home run on June 2nd last year, but then did not hit #21 until the 10th.

So at this point of the season the Orioles are back to .500 at 27-27.  Interestingly, the Washington Nationals have the exact same record, even as the fans of each had hoped for a better first two months of the season. And again, the Blue Jays are first, and the Rays have the worst record in the American League! Crazy!

Sunday’s game looks like a good pitching matchup as our old friend Scott Feldman will take his turn for the Astros in the final game this season between the teams. Feldman has proven worthy of his contract, as he enters with a 3-2 record and 3.02 ERA. On May 9th against the Birds he went six innings, giving up two runs in a no-decision. Nick Markakis is 8-for-24 off Feldman, while Machado is 3-for-5 with a triple and homer. But Adam Jones is 2-for-18 and Nelson Cruz 2-for-9.

Wei-Yin Chen will take his 5-2 record and 4.50 ERA to the mound. Chen will look to improve upon his two most recent starts which have been pretty grim with 10 runs over 11.2 innings.  Chen started the same game on May 9th against Feldman, and he went seven innings with two runs surrendered to gain the win.

The Orioles could really use this win before heading to the Texas Rangers.

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