Pedro Alvarez wrote the closing chapter of today’s Baltimore Orioles game with his bat. Subsequently, he also wrote the closing chapter of this weekend series with Detroit, and the just-completed home stand. While said home stand will go as a disappointment, the way that it ended should give Orioles fans a sliver of hope – albeit a small sliver.
Perhaps the most interesting part of Alvarez’s two home run day was the fact that he wasn’t supposed to have been in the lineup to begin with. Danny Valencia was scratched about twenty minutes before game time with a sore hamstring. Enter Alvarez, who ended up with a rare start against a southpaw (Detroit’s Norris, who ended up leaving the game in the third inning with an injury himself). And boy did he take advantage of the opportunity that he was given.
But first off, we all know that it begins and ends with starting pitching. Kevin Gausman was solid, but he had to labor to put out the batters he put out. Gausman’s line: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 4 K. The Birds would like their starters to go deeper than Gausman did today, however that was high a high pitch count more than anything else.
Luckily for Gausman however, the O’s gave him a lead early and they never looked back. Trey Mancini led the game off with a solo homer, and before the crowd had even settled the O’s led 1-0. One inning later Alvarez stepped to the plate with a runner on base, and he sent a deep liner to center, which gave the O’s a 3-0 lead after clearing the wall.
Again while the O’s led the entire way, Detroit did threaten. Hicks’ solo homer in the fifth cut the Orioles’ lead to 3-1. However on this day at least, the O’s seemed to understand that the opponent was coming for them if they weren’t careful. In other words, they added on a couple of insurance runs at the end. Gentry’s RBI-single in the sixth ran the score to 4-1…and it’s a good thing that it did. Because back-to-back Detroit RBI-doubles in the seventh cut the Orioles’ lead to one at 4-3.
The O’s still held the lead. But it was precarious at best. The grandstand seemed packed chock full of fans who already had a loss plastered on their faces. And understandably so, as they had seen this movie several times this season. The O’s battled hard in a game, and ended up losing it at the end because they couldn’t plate any insurance runs and the opponent decided to be pesky and not give up. The game was basically over in a lot of people’s minds…
…but again, enter Pedro Alvarez. He sent a deep pop fly towards the out-of-town scoreboard in right field. The ball never really stopped carrying, and just made it over the scoreboard to count as a solo homer. Whereas Detroit had seemingly taken a bit of momentum with their two previous runs, the Orioles this time said NOT TODAY! The Orioles’ bullpen was also able to finish the job, and the Birds took home a 5-3 victory.
Make no mistake about the fact that this was a big win. If the Orioles are going to get back into the race, they have to start somewhere. This was a tough home stand, but it concluded on a very positive note with the Birds not only winning the finale, but with them also winning their first home series of the year.
The O’s, off their eighth win of the season, will have a day off tomorrow and then Tuesday they’ll open up a three-game set in Anaheim. All-in-all, that opens a six-game road swing through Anaheim and Oakland. Joining the Orioles in Anaheim will be Mark Trumbo, who’s expected to come off the DL and make his season debut on Tuesday.