Written by Bruce Smith (VaTech1994)
By Bruce Smith (VaTech1994)
The Orioles beat the Houston Astros by a score of 4-3 on Friday night in the first game of a six game homestand. Wei-Yin Chen won his fourth game of the season with seven solid innings. Steve Pearce and Manny Machado hit solo home runs. The Orioles continue to play extremely well in the late innings. Jonathan Schoop broke a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the 7th with a two-out single and Nick Markakis followed with a double in the gap to make it 4-2. Tommy Hunter once again decided to walk the tightrope in the 9th inning and he was, once again, able to escape with the save after allowing the first two baserunners to reach.
The win got the Orioles to a season high five games over .500 at 19-14. This was the fourth win in a row for the Orioles, also a season high. The Orioles are in first place by a game over the New York Yankees.
Wei-Yin Chen came out on fire in the first inning throwing all his pitches for strikes. He struck out the first two hitters of the game on just seven pitches. In the second inning, Chen started experiencing command problems and getting up in the zone. Chen gave up a run in the third when former Orioles’ prospect LJ Hoes hit a sacrifice fly. In the 7th inning, Chris Carter ran into a low fastball for his fifth home run of the season. Chen’s command was in-and-out all night, but he battled, continued to use all his pitches, and benefitted from facing one of the weaker major league line-ups any of us will ever see.
Chen’s final line was 7.0 IP, 5 hits, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, and the win. It was a good performance in part because Chen was more pitch efficient than he has been thus far this year.
Darren O’Day pitched the 8th inning and continued to be tough on righties and lefties. He executed a clean inning while picking up a strikeout and throwing only 12 pitches.
Tommy Hunter came in to finish out the game. He gave up a ringing double to the first hitter he faced to immediately get himself in trouble. Hunter followed up the double with a walk before getting Chris Carter, who just isn’t a ML hitter in my opinion, to ground into a double play as the third run scored. Hunter then threw a couple outstanding pitches to George Springer and got him looking at strike three on the last one to close out the game. I was able to copy the sentence about the ringing double almost verbatim from last Friday’s game story which is both funny and troubling. Tommy needs to start having some clean innings or the blown saves are going to happen. It isn’t if, it is when.
Nick Markakis singled to start the game which extended his hitting streak to sixteen games. He followed that up with another hard single in the 6th inning and then an RBI double in the 7th inning. He is seeing the ball really well, getting good pitches to hit, and hitting them consistently hard. It is great to see Nick look like the hitter some compared to Stan Musial early in his career. I hope he can maintain this through the season and give the Orioles a tough decision on his option year.
Steve Pearce and Manny Machado went deep in the third. Both balls were hit on the line with backspin. This was Pearce’s third homer in four games. For Manny it was his first of the year and had to feel good to him after the nasty knee injury he suffered to end last season. JJ Hardy added a double and Jonathan Schoop knocked him in with a hard line drive right back up the middle.
Manny Machado made an error on a ball that rode up on him off the infield glass. Other than that, it was a clean game. The Orioles turned two double plays and made both of them look routine when they weren’t.
Key Moments In The Game
The Astros went up 1-0 in the third but the Orioles immediately hit two solo home runs in the bottom of the third. The immediate strike back after the Astros went ahead kept the Orioles in the driver’s seat. In the 7th inning, the Astros scored to tie the game at 2-2. The Orioles immediately struck back yet again when Schoop hit the two out RBI single.
Chris Davis took batting practice before the game. He looked good enough that the Orioles announced that he would go to Bowie on Saturday to play in a game. If things go well, he could be back in the Orioles’ lineup as early as Monday against the Tigers.
Visit the Orioles Hangout Message Board