Baltimore Orioles: Win Number 21 Goes to Chris Davis


May 27, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis (19) hits a home run in the eighth inning against the Houston Astros at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

It seems like a very long time since the Baltimore Orioles won a close game by breaking a tie in the final inning or two. This has been a trademark of the team in recent years, but in this strange start of the 2015 season has been more the experience of the Houston Astros – the first team in the majors this year to gain 30 wins.

But on Wednesday evening, the Orioles did something to maybe, perhaps, hopefully set the world aright once more. Chris Davis hit his second homer of the game in the bottom of the eighth inning to break a 4-4 tie and give the Birds a 5-4 series-winning victory over the upstarts from Texas. (Note from the picture that it was a tobacco-free homer as well!)

Honestly, it shouldn’t have been that difficult; and frankly, it likely should have be a 5-1 win. Ubaldo Jimenez pitched a very fine game and deserved a much better fate than giving up four runs in seven innings.

In the top of the seventh, with runners at the corners and one out, UJ induced a ground ball hit right at J.J. Hardy who was less than 10 feet behind the bag. Rather than coming in on the grounder, stepping on the bag and throwing to first to complete the double play, he waited for Ryan Flaherty to cover the bag and have to make an off-balance throw to first … too late. The run scored, and the next batter hit a two-run homer to tie the game.

This won’t go down as an error, but it was a three-run swing in the game. It goes against the defensive narrative of Hardy as a premier shortstop. Nobody’s perfect, and certainly Hardy is in the first tier of defensive infielders; but the miscue was nearly a deadly one for the Orioles. It is also just the latest in too many such stories about the O’s fielding this year.

On the positive side of the ledger, after complaining in this blog yesterday about the lack of production from Davis, Hardy and Steve Pearce, the three combined to go 5-for-12 with three home runs and four RBIs. Davis hit number nine and 10, while Pearce blasted his sixth. The other Orioles run was a thing of beauty on a double steal by Adam Jones and Jimmy Paredes – scoring on a headfirst slide.

The surprising news of the day was seeing Alejandro De Aza getting DFA-ed. Hopefully the Orioles can find a way to move him on without taking a huge financial loss. The move makes sense when fully considered, though it is against the Orioles’ general way of doing business – usually going into many, many extra innings with underperforming players who have big contracts.

The Orioles are in such an odd time of being at the back end of a building cycle, wherein they do not have the roster flexibility usually enjoyed in recent years. Sometimes you just have to part ways with players – like De Aza. Stay tuned – there are more moves of this sort coming up.

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Another organizational move was to add Cuban defector and left-handed pitcher Ariel Miranda. When the 26-year-old was asked of whom he might compare himself to of players in the majors, he said, “I like the CC Sabathia stuff, even though I consider myself more athletic than CC at this point.”

So, that’s … ah … comforting! Really? Sabathia? Hey, I’m age 60 and need a knee replacement, but I consider myself more athletic than CC at this point also!

The Orioles send a pair of rookie starters to the mound in today’s doubleheader against the White Sox. It would be a great narrative for Mike Wright and Tyler Wilson to get the O’s two victories. It could also be the actual turning point of the season.

Next: Scoring runs - big challenge for the O's