Well, it only took 8.2 innings, but the Orioles finally got on the board, and in a big way. On his 30th birthday, Matt Wieters stood in for his 4th at-bat, at a little after 1 in the morning (east coast time), and drilled a 1-0 pitch over the left center field wall, sailing 394′ away from home plate. Couple this with a Chris Davis single, and a Mark Trumbo walk, and the Orioles found themselves with a 3-1 lead, with two outs in the top of the 9th. Throughout the whole game, Matt Shoemaker made the Orioles look like a pee wee team, only allowing 3 hits, and striking out 12. Twelve!!! Early tweets yesterday suggested the O’s would tag Shoemaker for at least 3 HR’s, and score big, however, that was not the case at all. Like history has shown, yet again, the Orioles struggled with a pitched who had an inflated ERA, and had been struggling. After 9 completed innings, and the Orioles walked off the field with another series win, the first 8 innings of last nights ball game meant absolutely nothing.
Okay, okay, there’s a lot of talk about home plate umpire Dale Scott, and how he had two incredibly bad calls last night in the bottom of the 9th. One on Yunel Escobar, and on Mike Trout in the very next at-bat. With one out in the bottom of the 9th, and a runner on first, Zach Britton delivered a 97 mph 2-seam fastball to Yunel Escobar, with 2-strikes, and it landed at the bottom of the zone… the very, very bottom of the zone. The pitch appeared to be inside as well, however, Dale Scott rung up Escobar, much to his dis-pleasure. As soon as Scott’s arms started going up, Yunel disagreed, and was tossed from the game within a matter of seconds. In his defense, and I don’t do this often, the pitch was low, and probably shouldn’t have been called a strike, however, you do NOT argue balls and strikes. At the end of the day, Dale Scott will probably have his performance from last night reviewed, but it will not change the outcome of the game, and that was that the Orioles had recorded their first victory (1-15) when trailing after 8 innings.
While last night was fun, and late, the Orioles now have an opportunity to pick up a 3-game sweep at the hands of Jered Weaver, and the now 19-24 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The 33 year old right handers holds an 8-4 career record against the Orioles, but has only lost one time against the O’s since 2010. If the Orioles are going to get the sweep, the offense is going to need to hit, and the pitching from Jimenez is going to need to be solid. Statistically, Ubaldo has not been good when it comes to taking on the Angels. In 6 total starts since 2009, Ubaldo has only picked up 1 victory, and lost the other 5 contests.
The Orioles this season have only been able to pick up one 3-game series sweep, dating back to the opening series in Baltimore, against Minnesota. Even if they fail to pickup the sweep, and come up on the short end in Anaheim, the O’s will still be double digit numbers over the .500 mark, and will still remain in first place, even if it is via a tie with the Boston Red Sox. We all knew, regardless of what the critics thought, that we would be a competitive squad, and would not let anybody push us around, or think they could come in and walk all over us. Even with the pitching staff in question, even with the amount of strikeouts we knew some of our sluggers would accumulate, there was never any disagreement between anybody that this 2016 ballclub was going to look similar to the 2014 squad that ran away with the American League East, and eventually made it to the League Championship series. We’re through 41 games so far in 2016, and if these first 41 are any indication on how the next few months are going to go, we are all in for a very, very fun summer in Baltimore.