Baltimore Orioles: Intangibles and situational baseball win games

The Baltimore Orioles sent Jorge Lopez to the mound in Tampa tonight against their AL East rival New York Yankees. Odds are if he wasn’t already on the final roster, Lopez pitched his way onto it. Whether it’s as a starter or reliever remains to be seen. But Lopez had a solid outing against one of the American League’s most potent lineups. Lopez’s line: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K.

In terms of winning or losing the game (which is meaningless), the issue was that New York pitching was just as good. For quite awhile we appeared headed for a tie. Then the seventh inning happened…

…the top of the seventh, that is. Ramon Urias came in as a pinch runner following a base hit. Urias would steal second, which was huge in the grand scheme of things. In a tie or a close game anytime someone can swipe a base late like that, it can often be the difference between winning and losing.

Urias’ stolen base meant Austin Hays was hitting with a runner in scoring position. And he picked up where he left off last night, smacking an RBI-single and giving the O’s a 1-0 lead. Again, that stolen base set up the base hit. And those are intangibles in games that are valuable.

The O’s would also nab two additional runs on wild pitches during the seventh inning, and they kept NY off the board the rest of the way. Chris Shaw would add an insurance run with an RBI-single in the ninth. New York would also get on the board in the nineth, but the O’s closed out a 4-1 victory. However Austin Hays has shown some excellent understanding of the little things that can win games in the last 24 hours. If this continues into the regular season, teams are going to have a big problem on their hands.

Before the game the Birds made a signing and a roster move. They signed P Wade LeBlanc to a major league contract for 2021 (after previously releasing him. To make room for LeBlanc, they transferred Chris Davis to the 60-day DL. So that solves the Davis problem – for now.

The Orioles will head to CoolToday Park in North Port, FL tomorrow night to take on the Atlanta Braves. John Means gets the start for the Birds (his final tune up before Opening Day at Fenway Park), and he’ll be opposed by Atlanta’s Max Fried. Game time is set for just after 6 PM.

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