Baltimore Orioles: Anthony Santander and company chump the champs

Thom Eshelman got the start for the Baltimore Orioles tonight in Washington D.C., but didn’t last as long as the Birds would have liked. Eshelman wasn’t awful, but he didn’t have that glossy finish on his pitches as we’ve sometimes seen. As I’ve said before, roughly a third of a pitcher’s starts are going to be great, a third poor, and a third in between. That final category is where Eshelman was tonight. Eshelman’s line: 4.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 2 K.

Washington got a solo homer from Soto, and a sac fly-RBI from Suzuki in the second inning. Washington would also net an RBI-double in the last of the sixth by Thames. It’s important to note, that run started out as a swinging bunt, and it snowballed…

…when you get runners on base things happen. Reliever Shawn Armstrong came off the mound to field a swinging bunt, and threw errantly to first base. That gave the runner second, and he took third on a wild pitch. That allowed him to score on Thames’ RBI-double.

Obviously he would have scored on a double anyways – most probably, at least. But when you give up extra bases like that you also allow teams to find ways score runs simply by putting the ball in play. That’s what the Orioles need to stay away from.

While the Birds put up 11 runs on 19 hits on Friday night, through seven they had only mustered two hits tonight. This perhaps prompted Brandon Hyde to send up two pinch hitters in the eighth: Pat Valaika and Pedro Severino. And they didn’t disappoint; they smacked back-to-back solo homers to put the O’s right back into the game, cutting the Washington lead to 3-2.

So that run allowed by Shawn Armstrong was the only thing standing between the Orioles and pay dirt. Washington has led almost the entire game, and their pitching had dominated the Birds. But it was a tense lead. It felt like they were allowing the O’s to hang around. And they paid royally for that.

Later in that eighth inning the O’s had a couple of guys on, with Anthony Santander coming to the plate. And he sent a towering fly ball towards left…it barely cleared the fence, but it was a home run. And a three-run shot at that, which gave the O’s a 5-3 lead. And an eventual win.

Washington did mount a rally attempt in the last of the eighth. Cole Sulser, who’s quickly earning the trust of Brandon Hyde, put two runners in scoring position. However with the game hanging in the balance, he knotched a strikeout with two outs ending the threat and the inning.

One thing we know about these Orioles is that they play until the final out is recorded. Washington almost seemed to lose interest as the game wore on. And the Birds cranked it up when it mattered most. With the win, the Orioles have officially won the D.C. leg of the Battle of the Beltways.

The series concludes tomorrow at Nationals Park in D.C. Asher Wojchiekowski gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Washington’s Stephen Strasburg. Game time is set for just after 12:30 PM.

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