My personal opinion is that Aaron Brooks pitched his best game as a member of the Baltimore Orioles tonight in D.C. Brooks struggled just a bit out of the gate in the first inning. The only thing he was getting over for a strike was his changeup. But he settled in, and gave the Orioles a true quality start. Brooks’ line: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K.
However the Orioles had the lead even before Brooks took the field. After the O’s put two on base early, Anthony Santander‘s RBI-double Gabe them a 1-0 lead. That left two runners in scoring position, and Jonathan Villar‘s sac fly-RBI put the Birds ahead 2-0.
And as I said, Brooks settled down. Unfortunately for Oriole bats, so did Washington’s starter Corbin. However with little doubt, this was a classic throwback type of game. A pitcher’s duel. Pitchers on both sides were mowing them down left and right. In this age of the home run ball and baseball’s wound tightly and juiced up, it was refreshing to see for once.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a fan of the shift. That isn’t to say that there’s not a time and place, however when it’s newsworthy when teams pitch someone straight up, it’s gone too far. I recognize that the all-important analytics’ say that you have to play these shifts. But the game is still played by human beings.
Once again, we saw the Orioles in effect victimize themselves in this game due to the shift. In the last of the fourth with Rendon on first, the Orioles played a shift to the right side of the infield on Cabrera. Sure enough, Cabrera grounder out to the second baseman for the second out of the inning.
However Rendon had been in motion on a hit-and-run. Not only did Washington stay out of an inning-ending double-play, but with the infield shifted all the way over there was nobody covering third. Rendon took the opportunity to take third base.
The next hitter popped out and the inning was over. However it would stand to reason that Washington anticipated the Orioles’ shift, and put on the hit-and-run – thinking they could get the runner to third. Which they did. That’s where the shift hurts you, and at times it’s negatively affected the O’s all season.
With the O’s still leading 2-0 in the last of the eighth and Hunter Harvey onto pitch, we finally saw a Washington rally. They loaded the bases against Harvey with one out. However while Harvey managed to get himself into that situation, he also got himself out of it by striking out two to end the threat. In what was perhaps the first test of Hunter Harvey’s big league career, he managed to pass. As did the Birds, who beat the hottest team in baseball at their place, 2-0.
The series continues and concludes tomorrow night at Nationals Park. Asher Wojchiekowski gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Washington’s Max Scherzer. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.