Kevin Gausman, the Prince of Charm City and heir to the Baltimore Orioles pitching throne, matched King Hernandez of the Mariners over the first seven innings on Friday night in Seattle. The young Orioles hurler kept the Birds in the game 1-1 until Chris Davis could homer in the 10th inning off Charlie Furbush to give Baltimore the 2-1 win.
Gausman did plenty of bending, but little breaking. Seattle regularly put runners in scoring position, but they were only 1-for-10 in those situations. And that one hit resulted in Steve Pearce throwing out Endy Chavez at the plate—making up for his golden sombrero of four strikeouts.
It is difficult to overestimate the value of this win. It holds the Yankees at three games behind, as they defeated the Jays—who are now four behind the O’s. And Tampa won their eighth consecutive game over the Red Sox. The Rays are 7.5 games back, and the Sox 10.5 and in the basement. Hey Boston, it is all over for you. How about trading Koji Uehara to us for a bag of Norelco razors and a box of vertical growth hormones for all your stumpy players?
The Orioles win on this evening also puts the Orioles at 5-3 on this critical West Coast road trip, giving them the opportunity to win this series and have a winning record in California and Washington.
What is especially impressive about the Orioles winning these first two games in Seattle 4-0 and 2-1 is that they have beaten outstanding pitchers with nasty, dirty stuff. Hernandez is the best pitcher in the American League. His ERA now is 1.99 over 22 games. The Cruz home run was only the sixth he has given up this season in 158 innings.
Coming into this series, Seattle is #1 in the AL in runs allowed per game at 3.37, while Orioles are #4 at 4.01. I’ll bet most folks would not have expected the Baltimore staff to be that high.
Seattle is also #1 in WHIP at 1.145 – a stat that I particularly feel is extremely telling and valuable. By comparison, the Orioles are ninth in the league at 1.318.
The Mariners pitching staff is #2 in the AL with an ERA of 3.12, behind Oakland’s 3.11—which is well ahead of the third best (KC – 3.66). Actually, after these two games, the Mariners have moved just ahead of the A’s in team ERA. The Orioles came into the series ranked eighth at 3.82.
A lot of geekier baseball fans believe in a stat called “fielding independent pitching”… which is based upon a more complicated formula; and the Orioles at dead last in the AL in this category, while the Mariners are #1.
Any way you slice it, the Seattle pitching is outstanding. But the Orioles have been very good on the mound, holding Seattle to one run over 19 innings.
There is a lot to celebrate and be encouraged about right now for the Orioles, but it is going to be a battle to the end.