The elements of success for the Baltimore Orioles baseball team are to daily provide sufficient pitching, relentless offense, and stellar defense. Putting all three of those elements together on one evening has been the challenge for the 2014 Birds. Though the defense seldom breaks down, often the hitting or pitching struggles to hold up their end of the deal.
But it all came together on Tuesday even in Toronto where the Orioles opened a critical three-game series against the second place Blue Jays, scoring a 9-3 victory.
Though Bud Norris was not at the top of his game, he held the Jays to two runs in 5.1 innings of work. The bullpen allowed only one additional score in their 3.2 frames. Every batter in the Orioles lineup contributed with a hit, including three home runs; and the defense bailed out the pitchers with double plays at critical moments on three occasions.
Add it all together and you have a classic Baltimore Orioles type of win.
The Jays scored their two runs off of Norris with a home run by Colby Rasmus – a rather ordinary baseball player who somehow seems to hit the O’s pitching pretty well. But the two runs were offset by solo blasts from Caleb Joseph and Jonathan Schoop on two of the prettiest swings you’ll ever see.
And to summarize here with a sentence unimaginable at the beginning of the season: The Orioles had the offense cooking so well that even Nelson Cruz and Chris Davis had a pair of RBIs each … both plating runs with sac flies. Chris Davis also powered a long home run, while Cruz finally caught a break with a ground single slicing through the infield.
Delmon Young justified his inclusion in the cleanup spot by getting a pair of hits and two walks in his five at-bats. Also having two hits on the evening for the Orioles were Schoop, Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, and J.J. Hardy – who drove in the first run with a long double.
All totaled, the Orioles tallied 14 hits and eight walks over the game. Even so, the Jays put up 12 hits and never went down 1-2-3 for the entire contest.
The victory opens up a five-game lead over Toronto in the standings. If the Orioles could take the next two games, along with the Jays actually being six games behind in the loss column, it could put a severe beating upon the hopes of Toronto realistically being able to catch the O’s.
The pesky Yankees, who may well get Masahiro Tanaka back this season, also lost a game in the standings by dropping a 12-inning affair to the Tigers … so they are six games behind.
Game two of the series will have Wei-Yin Chen (12-3, 3.76) squaring off against Drew Hutchinson (7-9, 4.62).
Chen has been pitching some of the best baseball that Orioles fans have seen from him over his three years in Baltimore. Hutchinson, on the other hand, is 3-6 with a 6.22 ERA over his past 10 games. However, one of those three wins was over the Orioles where he shut them out through seven full innings.
Amazingly, Chen has only ever pitched five innings against the Jays, and Hutchinson’s 12 innings against the O’s leaves us with nothing of substance to consider about matchups.
So, will the new life in the Orioles bats from the past two games continue? Will Chen put together another outstanding start? Brad Brach, Darren O’Day, and Zach Britton will all be fresh. Or will the travel day and grueling daily schedule finally catch up with the Orioles?
Tags: Baltimore Orioles