Aug 17, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Baltimore Orioles first base Steve Pearce (center) and designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) celebrate a 4-1 win over the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Orioles: The Total Team Effort Win

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After being held to only one run in the first 25 innings against the Indians, the Baltimore Orioles scored two in the sixth frame on Sunday. And along with two additional solo home runs, they put together a solid team effort to salvage the final game of the series 4-1.

There was a lot to like about this game that puts up yet another win to hold off the Yankees and Blue Jays. With 40 games to go, the O’s are seven ahead of the Yanks and seven and a half in front of the Jays.

Every element of the team contributed. The pitching held the Indians to only two hits—a double and single back-to-back off starter Kevin Gausman in the fourth inning. But that was it. Gausman pitched six innings, followed by one each from Darren O’Day, Andrew Miller, and Zach Britton.

The Orioles tallied four runs on 12 hits, getting two-out RBIs from J.J. Hardy and Chris Davis in the sixth inning. Davis had two hits to left field – so good to see!  Steve Pearce hit a solo shot in the seventh, and Jonathon Schoop hit a long, long homer to the right of center field in the top of the ninth. Schoop had just missed a homer previously in the game—hitting a double high off the left-center field wall.

So, to summarize: A solid start, shut-down relief, clutch hits, power displays to add tack-on runs, and good all-around defense – this is the stuff that wins from March through October.

The Orioles lineup was such an improvement over the previous two games. Davis was dropped to seventh in the order while Pearce handled the job in the second spot. Schoop turned the lineup over. Five of the nine starters had two hits. Only Nelson Cruz and Nick Hundley were shut out on the day, though both of them hit into solid line-drive outs.

The Baltimore Orioles move on now to the second half of this trip with a three-game series with the White Sox, where they will be facing one of the very best pitchers in all of baseball in lefty Chris Sale. His numbers are simply extraordinary. He enters this game with a 10-2 record and ERA of 2.01 over 130 innings. Over the season he has 150 strikeouts, including 40 in his most recent 28 innings (four games, including eight shutout innings against the Giants last week). For the season, his WHIP is an amazing 0.88.  For comparison, consider that Darren O’Day is at 0.89 … so this is like having O’Day’s effectiveness over seven innings of a game.

The Orioles did not particularly help some of those numbers however, as the O’s got 11 hits over six innings against Sale on June 23rd. Even so, Baltimore only scored two runs against him; and Sale would have been the winner that day had not Chris Davis hit a walk-off three-run pinch-hit homer in the ninth inning to give the Orioles a 6-4 victory.

Cruz is 3-for-8 off Sale with a home run, Delmon Young is 2-for-9 with a homer, and Markakis is 2-for-5. Others have just an at-bat or two.

Bud Norris will be facing the White Sox with his 10-7 record and 3.75 ERA.  He has only pitched twice against the Sox – both times last year. Each was a loss, once with Houston and once with the Orioles. Little can be gained from those numbers as Norris is a totally different pitcher and competitor this year.

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