Each Monday, in this spot, I’ll try to give you fan’s look at what transpired with our Birds the past week and what lies ahead for the club. My only promise is that the piece will be totally biased and from a real fan, so here it goes:
1. Baby Steps
After two consecutive weeks of one win and five losses, the Orioles…made some progress (?!?) going 2-4 and winning just their second series of the season against the Detroit Tigers winning two of three from them, after dropping one from the Indians in a wrap-around game on Monday and then dropping two straight to the Tampa Bay Rays in a rain shortened two game series. Up until the weekend series with Detroit, nothing was going right for the club. The starting pitching was bad, with a few exceptions (more below) and while the offense was showing signs of life, it still wasn’t enough. The week did end on a high note with the series win against the Tigers and Pedro swatting homers (again, more below), so maybe when the calendar turns to May the team can put it all together and climb back to .500. I still contend this team is not as bad as their record says.
2. Gausman Was Immaculate…And Pretty Good, Too
In an otherwise forgettable 2-1 loss to the Indians last Monday night, Kevin Gausman did something that only 89 other Major Leaguers had done. Gausman struck out the side in the 7th on exactly nine pitches in what is known as an “Immaculate Inning”. Gausman struck out Indian’s batters Yonder Alonso and Yan Gomes swinging, then Bradley Zimmer looked at a called strike three. The last Orioles pitcher to perform the feat was reliever B.J. Ryan who, oddly enough, had also had his immaculate inning versus the Cleveland Indians back on September 5th, 1999. Aside from the rarity of the “Immaculate Inning”, Gausman also had a pretty solid two start week – yes, he’s on my fantasy team. That Monday he tossed eight innings yielding just two runs on four hits, walking one and striking out seven. He followed that gem up with a decent start Sunday, going 5.2 innings, giving up one run on five hits, striking out four.
3. Vote For Pedro!
Going into the week, Pedro Alvarez may have been thinking what his future held in baseball. While the club had signed him this offseason for his left handed power bat, aside from a big grand slam against the Yankees back on the 6th of April, Pedro’s season was pretty unremarkable. He was hitting around the “Mendoza Line” and hadn’t homered since a 10-3 loss to the Red Sox on April 14th. News was also circulating that Mark Trumbo was nearing completion of his injury rehab in Bowie and due to return to the club. With little to show on his resume, it appeared that Pedro’s days were numbered. Then came Friday night and Pedro played a big part in a 6-0 win over Detroit, hitting two homeruns and knocking in three. He followed up Sunday with two more homers in a 5-3 win over the same Tigers, homering the second time in the 8th inning providing a much needed insurance run in a tight game. Pedro wasn’t even supposed to be in the lineup Sunday and didn’t get penciled in until about five minutes before game time. Pedro even dusted off his glove playing a decent third base on Sunday, too.
4. Back To The Future
Chris Tillman has been very much a part of the renaissance of the Orioles. Between 2012-2016, Tillman had complied a 65-33 record with the club and helped anchor the staff to two playoff appearances. in 2017 and 2018 he had slipped to a 1-10 record and 8.28 ERA. As an Orioles fan who very much appreciated Tillman and what he had meant to the club, it was sad to see what was happening to him. Then came Friday night and TIllman looked as if he had taken a swig from the Fountain of Youth. Tillman threw 7 strong innings of 1 hit ball striking out 5. This was a big lift for the club as this week starting pitchers “Not named Gausman or Tillman” (Cobb, Cashner, Bundy) were touched up for 19 earned runs in only 12.3 combined innings. Here’s hoping Tilly can become a solid #5 in the rotation.
5. Who’s on…2nd?!?
With Jonathan Schoop appearing in all 162 games in 2016 and following up with a 160 game season in 2017, it was a pretty safe bet to see Johnny Baseball’s name on Buck’s lineup card most nights. Then came to dreaded oblique strain, which is baseball’s equivalent of the NFL’s turf toe, both seemingly innocuous injuries that put players on the shelf for extended periods of time. On Tuesday, this past week, former Yankees’ utility man Jace Peterson became the fifth Oriole to occupy the position of second base this season, which is only 28 games old as of this draft. The good news is Jonathon appears closer to returning to the club, doing extended Spring Training in Sarasota this week, followed by a rehab assignment with one of the club’s minor league teams. Schoop will likely return after the team’s six game west coast swing this week.
Coming up this week: Six games…three versus the L.A. Angels and then three with the Oakland A’s in the teams first foray to the west coast in the 2018 season.