Baltimore Orioles: Paredes and De Aza Lead O’s to Win


May 19, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph (36) celebrates with designated hitter Jimmy Paredes (38) after he hit a two run home run in the sixth inning against the Seattle Mariners at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Baltimore Orioles defeat Seattle Mariners 9-4. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Orioles looked like the Baltimore Orioles for the first time in quite a while, as they opened a three-game series with the Seattle Mariners with a 9-4 victory. The offense finally game to life, battling throughout the game to come back from two deficits to eventually run away with it.

It was a good win for the Orioles, as they were able to pick up a game on the Yankees – who were beaten 8-6 by the Nationals coming from behind. The Rays also won on Tuesday evening, so Baltimore now trails both the Rays and Yankees by three game – very manageable.

There are two main ingredients for this good win, each the stuff of the team that we saw win 96 games just a year ago: Limiting Damage, and Maximizing Opportunity.

Limiting Damage

I wonder if Miguel Gonzalez ever fights with his wife? I’m guessing that the answer is “no.”

Gonzalez does indeed have the perfect personality for a big-league pitcher. He was not rattled by the leadoff hitter – Seth Smith – taking him deep. And after the O’s tied the game with the Mariners, a hanging curve to Nelson Cruz ended up in the Seattle bullpen for a three-run homer. No big deal. He settled down to get 13 more outs without giving up any more runs. This allowed time for the Orioles to get back in the game.

Gonzalez improves his record to 5-2 with a 3.24 ERA. Batters are only hitting .204 against him; and his WHIP is now 1.12.

A most interesting statistic was put on the screen late in the game by MASN during the broadcast. Gonzalez posting the fifth consecutive start of seven innings or more by an Orioles pitcher is the first such streak in almost eight years!  On the list the last time it happened were names like Daniel Cabrera and Brian Burres!

Maximizing Opportunity

The Orioles were able to work 13 hits and five walks off Seattle pitching. And when the Birds got their guys in scoring position, they made the most of it by going 6-for-13.

This skill of hitting with runners in scoring position (RISP) is an ability that has grown in the Orioles over the last several years. At this point, they are now batting a perfect .300 in RISP situations, second only to the Royals in the American League. Last year at .268 they trailed only the Tigers and Royals. Here is their average and ranking in recent years…

YearRISP Avg.AL Rank

Especially helpful on Tuesday evening was having Jimmy Paredes get a critical two-out single through the infield to score two runs in the bottom of the fourth inning and tie the game 4-4. This followed a very poor at-bat by Manny Machado, who lunged at a first pitch with the bases loaded, none out, to hit into a 1-2-3 double play that looked to kill a big rally.

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And in his next at-bat, Paredes broke open a 5-4 game with a two-run homer. It is as amazing at it is surprising. He now has six homers and 22 RBIs in 25 games played. And that too is maximizing opportunity. May it continue!

May it also continue for Alejandro De Aza, who went 3-for-3 with a walk. If he could get it going to a level as he played a year ago for the Orioles, it would a huge addition.

But What about Nelson Cruz?

Let him go! He’s off to a nice start again this year. We can be happy for him.

For the Mariners and their four-year deal with Nellie, it is “so far, so good.”  It will be interesting to see if he maintains any kind of pace in the hot summer months or if he will disappear for three months as he did last year. And what will his play in the latter years of the contract look like? (That was the big issue for the Orioles in not keeping him.)

His home run tonight was #16, hit in the 38th game of the season for the Mariners. That is a lot. Projected over a full season it numbers 68. At this point last year, Cruz had hit 12 home runs.

Perhaps the cooler conditions of playing half of the time in Seattle will help him maintain more consistency than when playing in the heat and humidity of Baltimore in the summer.

As Buck said, it was nice that he came our way; but I for one don’t wish he was back – not for the dollars given for four years.

Next: The backgrounds of Mike Wright and Tyler Wilson