Baltimore Orioles Beat the 217 Million Dollar Man

Apr 11, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis (19) hits a three run homer against the Boston Red Sox in the ninth inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 11, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis (19) hits a three run homer against the Boston Red Sox in the ninth inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports /

The Baltimore Orioles improved to 6-0 on the season with a 9-7 win over the Boston Red Sox, beating David Price, the $217 million contract signee of the past offseason.

Actually, while scoring five runs off Price, it was more accurately the $11.25 million man that they officially beat in Craig Kimbrel. Price and Kimbrel were the two big offseason acquisitions of the Sox that have them favorably rated for this 2016 season, certainly above the Orioles by most “experts.”

But this is why they play the games, and yes, there are 156 more of them to go. But the early returns say that, at a minimum, the Orioles should not be counted out as capable of making a run at an AL East title.

Kimbrel is considered by many to be the best closer in the game, and he has impressive numbers indeed from his National League career. Not many pitchers could ever say that they have a lifetime ERA of 1.62 with a WHIP of 0.925.  That is powerful stuff.

The four-time All-Star was traded by the Padres to Boston for four minor league players. He is making $11.25 million this year, $13.25 million next year, and has an option for $13 million in 2018.

But the Orioles spent some money in the offseason as well, especially on Chris Davis who faced Kimbrel in the top of the ninth with the score tied at six runs each. After a pair of walks, Davis welcomed the closer to the AL East by hitting his first pitch about 440 feet. Who said that nothing good happens after a walk?

Davis commented in the postgame that he had not faced Kimbrel much, apart from a couple of years ago when he was with Atlanta. If that happened, it had to have been in spring training. After researching it, there is no record of them facing off in the regular season.

Davis did add three strikeouts to his seasonal total. But he also had a two-run single to contribute to his five-RBI day. Beyond that, his defense was amazing, digging out throws and making every play. Showalter’s postgame remarks included him saying that Davis’ defense was the difference-making factor in the game, and that is not far from the truth.

Orioles starter Yovani Gallardo was far from lights-out on this day, though he likely deserved a better fate than the five runs he gave up on seven hits and a walk over five innings. A number of the hits were either not well-struck or simply found a hole. Another factor on this day was the extreme difficulty of playing in swirling winds. Everything about playing at Fenway is a weird experience — from the cramped locker room, to the Green Monster, to shadows on the field, to the windy conditions, etc.

I suppose it looks different to a Red Sox fan, as probably the Orioles do to an outsider of the team and its fanbase, but there is not a lot to like about watching the Sox. There is the barking of their players at the plate umpire, especially (but not limited to) David Ortiz, and antics like Holt jumping out of the batter’s box on a three-ball count to head to first base for the walk (which he did twice, scoring each time). Both Holt and Pedroia are little shrubs, each looking like they could not find pants small enough to prevent looking like they are drowning in their uniform.

Zach Britton’s rocky ninth inning again illustrates that there is no safe lead ever at Fenway. After giving up a leadoff homer to Mookie Betts to open the inning, a single and walk brought Ortiz to the plate with a chance to win the game on one swing — a potential storybook sort of ending to a day where he was honored for his last opening day at Fenway. But to show that there is justice in the world after all, he hit rather into a game-killing double play. Awesome.

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So this game was more of the type that most folks expect of the Orioles in 2016, as compared to the well-pitched first five contests. This game featured a rocky rotation start and the power of three-run bombs by Mark Trumbo and Davis to outscore the opposition, certainly needed because of a total of 15 strikeouts.

So here again is our prorated calculation of the chances of the Orioles to set club or all-time records for home runs and strikeouts …

MLB All-Time HRsO’s All-Time HRsO’s 2016 Pace
264 (Seattle- ‘97)257 (1996)270
MLB All-Time K’sO’s All-time K’sO’s 2016 Pace
1553 (Hous.- ‘13)1331 (2015)1296

Any win over the Red Sox is a good day. Starting the season with a club record sixth consecutive win makes it even better. And today the Orioles have the chance to do it again with Mike Wright making the start. Anything can happen and probably will.