There’s only one thing you really need to know about the Orioles’ 7-5 win over the struggling Detroit Tigers on Thursday night.
They had one heck of a comeback – down 5-0 in the sixth and 5-2 in the seventh – and scored all seven runs without the help of a home run.
They scored five runs in the seventh on six hits, five singles and a two-run, game-changing triple by Jonathan Schoop.
So after hitting 12 homers in their last three games, the Orioles hit none and still scored seven times Thursday. They are now 5-6 when they haven’t homered.
“It was very unusual for us, but I’m proud of the way we’ve been going about our at-bats and not just giving in or going up there and hacking when we get down,” first baseman Chris Davis said. “We’re actually working the count, trying to see some pitches and (taking) advantage of it.”
We all know the biggest part of the Orioles’ offensive game is the longball. That’s been their calling card for years. They’ll likely live and die with it much of this season. But it’s nice to see they have other ways to score – something previous teams lacked.
“(Power) has been such our forte the last few years that it’s kind of hard to get away from. But we put emphasis … in spring training, going into this season, that we wanted to have quality at-bats,” Davis said. “That’s something that (hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh) really preaches. You’re not just going up there and swinging, you’re looking for a certain pitch and you make the guy come to you. We’ve done a good job of that, and it’s definitely paid off.”
It’s only six weeks, but this group appears to be the best in Buck Showalter’s tenure at being able to score in various ways.
Of course, the manager isn’t buying on that one. Yet.
“We’ve had some good teams here, OK? There were some periods last year when that happened, periods in ’14,” Showalter said. “I’m not going to sit here and anoint anything in the middle of May about what this is going to be. I think we’ve got a lot of roads to cross before we say that.”
So we’ll say it for him. The most encouraging thing about Thursday night is that the Orioles, indeed, can bludgeon a bullpen while staying in the ballpark.
Ubaldo’s step-back tango
Ubaldo Jimenez lasted eight innings in his previous outing, gave up just two runs and was completely in control after a rough beginning.
Thursday? Not so much.
He had no command from the beginning, and, though he averted danger several times, he ultimately gave up five runs (four earned) in five innings. He surrendered nine hits and four walks.
“Yeah [I was fighting it] from the first pitch,” Jimenez said of his poor command. “The sinker was too low. I really couldn’t throw it where I wanted to, but I battled. It was really a tough night out there from the first pitch. I was trying to hang in there.”
This is unfortunately what we’ve come to expect from Jimenez. Sometimes, everything is clicking and he is nearly unhittable. Other times, his command is spotty and the opposition waits for him to have to throw strikes.
To get the good, there will inevitably be the bad. The good news is that since he limited the damage, the hole wasn’t too deep and the Orioles’ offense could shovel out.
Schoop’s first triple
What shouldn’t be lost in Thursday’s win is that Schoop’s big two-run triple down the right-field line also was the 24-year-old’s first big league triple.
“It’s real nice, I never thought it was gonna happen ever,” Schoop joked.
Schoop said he was thinking triple from the moment he hit it. And not because he was prophetic. With Pedro Alvarez running on contact from first with two outs, Schoop figured coach Bobby Dickerson was going to send Alvarez home for the potential insurance run.
So Schoop was hoping to draw the throw to third – and away from home. Even if he would have been out, it would have guaranteed Alvarez made it to the plate and scored the run first.
Gotta love that mindset in the heat of a game.
O’s comeback reminiscent of 2014
While watching that seventh inning comeback against Detroit’s bullpen, it immediately made me think of the highlight of this decade for the Orioles – their ALDS victory over the heavily favored Tigers in 2014. And especially Game 2, when they rallied against the Tigers’ bullpen in an electric Camden Yards. It was the loudest I’ve ever heard this place.
The circumstances were different and there were about 30,000 fewer people at the Yards on Thursday night.
But you could almost see the ghost of Delmon Young riding again.