I’m on record as saying that I’m wary of the new trend in baseball which was embraced today by the Baltimore Orioles, as they used an “opener.” Maybe I’m just not used to it, however it seems to me that as often as managers over-use their bullpen it’s not something that should be done. Nevertheless, it worked this afternoon with Nate Karns. Karns’ line: 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 1 K.
Karns managed to load the bases in the first with one down. Keep in mind however what I’ve always said. The position of pitcher yields itself to getting in trouble. The decent ones will get themselves out of trouble as well. And that’s what Karns did, inducing an inning-ending 1-2-3 double-play.
That really set the tone for the game in a sense. Despite being picked to be historically bad, this team never gave up today. Karns didn’t give in, and it got him out of the inning.
However NY would get on the board first, with an RBI-single by LeMahieu. However two innings later the Birds rallied. Dwight Smith Jr. tied the game at one with an RBI-single. That scored Jesus Sucre, who made a very important play earlier in the inning. He tagged up and moved from second to third on a routine pop fly to the outfield. That’s an aggressive risk to take – and it worked.
And then a moment later, the O’s held their first lead of 2019. They executed a double-steal, and the ball ended up in the outfield. A run scored, and the Birds took a 2-1 lead. Throughout spring training we heard about how they were going to be more aggressive on the base paths. And we saw it in today’s game. When you put pressure on the defense, sometimes they’ll commit errors. That happened to NY’s defense today.
Sucre would extend the Orioles’ lead to 3-1 in the seventh with an RBI-single, and would add an RBI-single in the seventh to run the lead to 3-1. He would come up again in the top of the ninth and sacked a two-RBI double, giving the Orioles two insurance runs and a 5-1 lead.
And you always need insurance runs when you play New York. Because come the last of the ninth Tulowitzki smacked a solo homer, followed by NY putting runners at the corners with one down. That prompted manager Brandon Hyde to bring in Mike Wright Jr. from the bullpen, for what would be his first save at any level. However Voit’s softly-hit bloop RBI-single would bring them to within 5-3.
However make no mistake about the fact that Hyde’s decision to go with Wright won the game. Both for the Orioles and Hyde, who recorded his first win as a big league manager this afternoon. Wright attacked the strike zone, and went after NY hitters. He struck out Andujar to win the game with two outs in the last of the ninth, and the Birds had their first win in 2019.
Many pundits joked about this Orioles team going 0-162. Any fool knows that’s nary impossible. However the Orioles showed a lot of grit in winning this game. Yes they allowed NY to make it interesting in the end, but it was a team-earned win and that’s really the main story.
In spring training I mentioned the importance of insurance runs. As I alluded above, you really saw it today. The two main points of this win were the insurance runs and the good base running by the Birds. By virtue of the victory, the Orioles are now at .500 on the year. Yes only two games in, but most people pegged them at 0-2 at this point.
The Orioles will conclude their three-game set at Yankee Stadium tomorrow afternoon. Dylan Bundy starts on the mound for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by New York’s J.A Happ. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.