Written by Bruce Smith (VaTech1994)
By Bruce Smith (VaTech1994)
The Baltimore Orioles and Kansas City Royals faced off on Saturday night in Baltimore for the second time this season. It was a pretty April night in Baltimore so the teams decided to give the fans some extra baseball at no charge. The Orioles prevailed by a score of 3-2 in 10 innings.
Danny Duffy came in the game in the 10th for the Royals and proceeded to just give the game away. He started by hitting Jonathan Schoop on the wrist. David Lough laid down a bunt and Duffy decided to attempt to throw out the runner at 2nd, but instead threw wildly into centerfield. Jemile Weeks then laid down a bunt with runners on 1st and 2nd and nobody out. Duffy again fielded the bunt. This time he decided to take the easy out at first base, but threw a half lob to first base that the covering 2nd baseman had to leap just to keep out of the right field corner. The back-to-back errors resulted in the bases being loaded with nobody out. Two batters later Nick Markakis lined a two strike pitch just inside the left field line for a game ending single.
Wei-Yin Chen was on the bump for the Orioles. Chen, a pitcher that typically throws the fastball as much as any starter in the majors, was sporting a sharp slider that he used extensively throughout the evening. He pitched well throughout and gave up just a couple hard hit balls. The hardest hit was a double off the right field wall by Eric Hosmer that drove in the first run for the Royals in the 3rd inning.
Chen allowed a run in the sixth on a routine grounder that snuck through the 1st base hole, a swinging bunt down the 3rd base line, and a jam shot off the fists that snuck over Schoop’s head into center. It was one of those innings that happen every once in a while, but makes a pitcher want to scream in frustration. Chen kept his cool though and got out of the inning without further damage.
Chen’s final line was 7.0 IP, 9 mostly soft hits, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, and the no decision. Chen pitched his best game of the year. Orioles’ fans can only hope that he brings that same quality slider to the mound frequently this season.
The Orioles used three pitchers to get through the eighth inning as Evan Meek, Brian Matusz, and Darren O’Day each recorded an out. Buck Showalter brought in Tommy Hunter in the 9th inning in a tie game and he responded with an uneventful inning. When the Orioles couldn’t score in the 9th, Hunter stayed on the mound to get another couple outs in the 10th before giving up a screaming double off the right field scoreboard. Zach Britton came in the game to face the lefty Jarrod Dyson with two outs and a man on 2nd in the 10th inning and struck him out on three pitches to secure the easiest win he’ll likely ever record.
The bullpen continued to pitch well as five pitchers combined to cover three innings without giving up a run.
Last night the Orioles faced an exceptionally talented young pitcher that was on his game so it wasn’t surprising they didn’t get much accomplished. Tonight, the Orioles faced Jeremy Guthrie, a veteran with significantly less impressive stuff, but they still didn’t get much done. The first three hitters all reached base and the Orioles had a 2-0 lead after just four hitters, but they never scored another run against Guthrie. While the Royals’ starter moved the ball around and threw strikes with all his pitch types, I thought the hitters should have done more with him.
The Orioles had Guthrie on the ropes right away in the first inning. Jemile Weeks, Nelson Cruz, and Nick Markakis all worked extended at bats against him and eventually reached base. That brought Adam Jones up with runners on 1st and 3rd, nobody out, and a run in. Jones swung at a slider on the first pitch and grounded out. Adam drove in a run, but essentially stopped the momentum swinging at a pitcher’s pitch in a spot where all the pressure was on Guthrie.
The Orioles also had runners on 1st and 3rd with one out in the 7th, but David Lough grounded into a double play to end the inning. Lough’s at bats this year haven’t been good. He comes to the Orioles with a reputation as having a decent bat without much power, but thus far he looks overmatched against any good or even above average pitcher.
Jemile Weeks had a nice first game in an Orioles uniform picking up a single, a triple, and a nice sacrifice bunt. Nick Markakis had a nice RBI single in the first inning and the game winning hit in the 10th.
There were no particularly difficult plays tonight, but it is worth noting that Nick Markakis played a solid first base in place of Chris Davis who was out with an oblique strain.
Key Moments In The Game
The back-to-back errors by the Royals’ reliever in the bottom of the 10th inning and Markakis’ subsequent game-winning hit were the key moments in the game.
The Royals have bunted at least eight times by my unofficial count in the first two games of the series. It has been many years since I’ve last seen a team use the bunt this much. Virtually all of the bunts have been well executed and the Royals have picked up several bunt base hits.
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