Baltimore Orioles: Stevie Wilkerson saves the day in Birds’ win
The Baltimore Orioles found themselves in somewhat of a precarious position this afternoon in game one of a day/night doubleheader. They had used too much of the bullpen the night before, ultimately using Stevie Wilkerson to pitch the ninth. So this afternoon they turned to Aaron Brooks in the role of an opener. Brooks’ line: 2.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K.
The Orioles claimed Brooks earlier this season off of waivers from Oakland. This was his Oriole debut. He was good in that role, however again the fact that they used an opener might have made things all the more difficult for tonight’s game. But one game at a time, I suppose.
Zunino smacked a solo homer for Tampa in the third inning. However aside from that, solid pitching on both sides kept both teams off the scoreboard. And for an Orioles’ staff which gave up 16 runs last night against a Tampa team who seemingly wanted blood, that’s quite a feat.
However Oriole pitching wasn’t being rewarded for that feat. And for once, Tampa seemed content winning the game 1-0. However eventually, Oriole bats decided to have other ideas.
Stevie Wilkerson, who of course had completed last night’s game on the mound, stepped to the plate in the seventh with one on and one out. He sent a deep fly ball to center towards the bullpens. The question was going to be whether or not it had enough to get out. Tampa’s center fielder Kiermaier had made many a great play against the Orioles. He seemed to be tracking the ball, thinking he had a shot at it.
But it wasn’t to be for once, as the ball cleared the wall just out of Kiermaier’s reach. Wilkerson’s two-run homer put the O’s in the driver’s seat with a 2-1 lead. The O’s were able to keep Tampa off the board for the remainder of the game, and closed out a 2-1 victory.
That’s a huge win for a team who lost 16-4 last night. And Lord knows it wasn’t easy. While the Wilkerson homer was the key, the biggest point of the game was probably the top of the seventh when Richard Bleier came in with two on and nobody out. Tampa was looking to extend their lead, which at that point was 1-0. Bleier retired the side and didn’t let a run cross. Make no mistake that the O’s got confidence off of that moment.
The series continues this evening in the second game of the doubleheader at Camden Yards. John Means gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Charlie Morton. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.