Just as everyone on the Baltimore Orioles contributed in some form or fashion toward a loss to the A’s on Friday night, the Birds of Saturday evening flew together in good formation to gain a solid 6-3 victory over the Oakland A’s.
It all began, as it should and as it does when things are going well, with excellent starting pitching. Kevin Gausman was very sharp in his seven innings that yielded only a home run to Coco Crisp among his four hits allowed. He hit 98 on the fastball and demonstrated the skills that have long been anticipated by the Orioles.
Adam Jones batted in the third hole again and set the tone for the evening with a first-inning home run. He also drove in what proved to be the winning run with a two-out single in the fifth inning.
As with most Orioles win this season, it almost always seems to be accompanied by and facilitated by contributions from the bottom third of the order, with one hit each by David Lough, Caleb Joseph, and Ryan Flaherty. The Orioles only totaled seven hits on the evening.
Joseph’s hit may well have been the critical shot of the game. Something good (for the Baltimore Orioles) happened after a walk to David Lowe, as Joseph drilled a deep double to right-center field, and a three-run rally was underway.
David Lough welcomed Jim Johnson back to Oriole Park with a two-run homer to push the O’s lead at that point to 6-1 in the sixth inning. Of course, Lough has no personal memories of Johnson’s tenure with the Baltimore Orioles. And as sad as it is to see Johnson struggle with the A’s even worse than he did with the O’s last year, it was great to see Lough turn on a ball and drive his first homer out of the park.
Though Brian Matusz would get touched for a couple of runs in the eighth inning to narrow the score, Darren O’Day got the final five outs for the win.
The problem, however, is that Manny Machado is hitting .241 and Chris Davis .238. Are they hitting better and may we expect the remaining 102 games to be played closer to our memories of what these players can produce? There are signs of such here and there – like the home runs on Friday night – but it does not seem to be sustained in any consistent fashion just yet. The over-shifts are particularly killing Davis.
Beyond that, the bottom third of the order frequently struggles and has low numbers. So when they produce in critical situations, it pushes the Orioles over the line into a very positive position for offensive production.
Another question raised by the game last night is if Gausman will be remaining and a part of the rotation. How can he not? If not now, when? If not here, where? One game does not an “arrival” make, but it is not like there is an impenetrable rotation in his pathway.
The Orioles play the A’s this afternoon in a series finale. Ubaldo Jimenez will take his 2-6 record and 4.39 ERA against the tough Scott Kazmir at 6-2, 2.40. In his last start Kazmir gave up two runs in 6.1 innings against the Red Sox, while the game before was a nine-inning, one-run complete game over the Tigers.
Nick Markakis is 10-for-24 with two homers and seven RBIs against Kazmir. Nelson Cruz is 5-for-20 with three doubles. Davis is 2-for-9, with Jones and Delmon Young both just 1-for-7.
Tags: Baltimore Orioles