The Baltimore Orioles have enjoyed a great 11-game homestand regardless of the outcome of tonight’s final game against Cincinnati. They are 8-2 and have already won all three series. Getting a three-game sweep of the Reds to send them out on the road for six games would be an extra topping.
The Orioles won on Wednesday night in the style you want to see from a great team, downing the Reds 6-0. Miguel Gonzalez had what was arguably his best start ever, as he pitched the first complete game shutout of his career. Such accomplishments are rare these days in baseball. But he had everything working well on this evening. He is a pitcher, not a flame-thrower, so he needs to be precise. And Gonzalez lived on the edges all night with late-moving stuff. Likely a run should have scored on him in the eighth inning—being held at third since the Reds could afford no chances of ruining a big inning.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Orioles demonstrated early their characteristic power with solo home runs from Jonathan Schoop and David Lough (remember him?), along with a two-run moon-shot by Chris Davis. And they were able to tack on two late add-on runs via a Schoop double.
Everyone did their job, and the bullpen got a night off—which may have been a fortuitous occurrence. We’re now down to 24 games to go, with a 9.5-game lead over the Yankees.
Ten games ago, looking at that point at a team with a record of 73-55 with 34 games to go, the Orioles had just been swept by the mighty Chicago Cubs and held a six-game lead over New York. Yes, this has been a good homestand!
Among points being made at that time were that the two power hitters for the Orioles – Chris Davis and Nelson Cruz – had to start carrying some more weight for this team. Here are their records for the 10-game homestand …
Those numbers are not incredible, but they are certainly sufficient to provide a significant level of contribution. A team can go far with these guys hitting like this. This is encouraging.
The finale of the homestand is tonight against the Reds where Chris Tillman will go for the Orioles. He has been especially good in the second half of the season. There is the ongoing debate about if he is an “ace” or not. But since I’m in a chart-making mood, let’s check out Tillman over his past 5, 10, 15, and 20 starts, and you decide what to call him…
|Last 5 games||3||0||33.2||6||1.60|
|Last 10 games||4||1||65.0||15||2.08|
|Last 15 games||6||2||99.2||24||2.17|
|Last 20 games||7||3||120||45||3.38|
There really is practically no history of Reds hitters against Tillman. Cincinnati will start Mike Leake, a 5’10” right-hander out of Arizona State, who was the 8th overall pick in the 2009 draft. His record this year is 10-11 / 3.33, and over his career it is 52-40 / 3.85. There is not much of a history of O’s hitters against him … just a few who hit in the National League.
Here is the Orioles starting lineup: