You can’t blame the Baltimore Orioles or O’s fans for thinking this night was going to end any differently than others of late. Not after Trey Mancini got thrown out at home plate on an aggressive send by third base coach Bobby Dickerson in the first inning. You could already feel defeat being snatched from the jaws of victory. But something funny happened…
…the Orioles ended up playing a superior ballgame this evening at Yankee Stadium. Andrew Cashner pitched a gem, that put the Birds in a spot to win the game. Cashner’s line: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 5 K. Cashner pitched out of a couple of mini-jams through those six innings, but for the most part he limited the traffic on the base paths. He becomes the first Orioles’ starter to earn a win in 2018.
Cashner matched New York starter Tanaka almost pitch-for-pitch. The one run he gave up with a solo homer in the last of the sixth by Judge. And that was actually the first run of the game. However if Orioles’ fans felt that it was predetermined to be the Birds’ sixth straight loss, they quickly found out that they were sorely mistaken.
Jonathan Schoop led off the inning, with an at-bat that ended in a solid single to center. That’s what the box score says. What it doesn’t say is what happened between when Schoop stepped in the box and when he reached first base. He worked Tanaka to the bone in that at-bat. Previous to then, Tanaka hadn’t really thrown that many pitches. But Schoop hung in there, with a Houston Astro-like at-bat. And eventually, he wore Tanaka down to the point to where he got a pitch he liked and lined it into center field.
That brought Adam Jones to the plate with a runner on first. And Tanaka, perhaps still reeling from the previous at-bat, grooved a pitch down the middle. And it only took Jones a New York minute to send the ball deep into the Bronx night, giving the Orioles the lead. Jones doesn’t need any help hitting home runs – he never has. But partially credit Schoop for that, as his at-bat set up what Jones did.
Anthony Santander would add an RBI-double to right later in the inning, which left two runners in scoring position. However Trey Mancini would clean up what was left on the base paths very quickly with a two-RBI double, giving the Birds a 5-1 lead. New York would add one more in the seventh, and they would push the likes of Givens, O’Day, and Brach in the remainder of the game. But the ‘pen remained true and held the lead, helping the O’s to break a five-game losing streak.
The Orioles also might have found their lead off hitter, as Mancini got the nod this evening, and got on base immediately. Whether he remains in that slot moving forward remains to be seen – but for one night he was strong. I can’t stress enough how big that Schoop at-bat was, even though the likes of Cashner, Jones, and Mancini will justifiably get the headlines for tonight’s win. That really set up the seventh inning to be a big inning, and the Orioles really took advantage of Tanaka being weakened a bit by that sequence. It’s the little things like that which can help to push you over the top in a close game (which at that point is what this game was).