WASHINGTON—After some difficult outings, Aaron Brooks has become an effective pitcher for the Orioles.
On August 10, Brooks allowed nine runs in the second worst defeat in Orioles history, 23-2, to the Houston Astros. Two starts later, he allowed a run on seven hits in five innings for his first win as an Oriole.
Brooks followed that start with something even better — six scoreless innings and only two hits in the Orioles’ 2-0 victory over the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night.
The win was the Orioles’ third straight. It’s their fourth three-game winning streak, and their first since July 26-28 at the Los Angeles Angels. They’re 44-88, and need just four wins to surpass last year’s total of 47.
It was their fifth shutout of the season.
The Orioles have won two of three from the Nationals, the National League wild-card leaders. Washington had won 12 of its previous 14.
“I just loved the way we pitched,” manager Brandon Hyde said.
“Yeah, it’s a great win. There’s no doubt about it. That’s a really good ballclub, a playoff ballclub that’s the hottest team in baseball right now and coming off a sweep on the road, scoring 10 runs a game. To be able to come in and put zeroes up for nine innings, it’s a testament to our pitchers.”
A waiver wire pickup last month, Brooks outdueled Patrick Corbin, who signed a six-year, $140 million contract in the offseason. Brooks had a 6.21 ERA entering the game while Corbin’s was 3.17.
The Orioles handed Corbin his first loss in 13 starts. They began the game with all the offense they would need.
Hanser Alberto led off with a single. Trey Mancini was hit by a pitch, and Anthony Santander doubled to score Alberto. With one out, Jonathan Villar’s sacrifice fly to center brought Mancini home in what would be the final run of the game.
After that, Corbin retired 15 straight until Alberto singled to start the seventh.
Brooks’ first hitter, Trea Turner, singled and stole second. Victor Robles singled with one out in the second.
His only inning with multiple baserunners was the fourth, when Anthony Rendon walked, and after Juan Soto struck out, Rendon moved to third on Asdrubal Cabrera’s grounder to second.
Matt Adams was hit by a pitch, and the inning ended on Robles’ foul popup.
Brooks’ six innings equaled his longest of the season.
“He’s more under control in his delivery,” Hyde said. “I feel like he’s not trying to overthrow his pitches. I think he’s making pitches instead of trying to generate arm speed or throw nasty sliders all the time.”
Brooks was replaced by Richard Bleier, who recorded two outs before Robles singled. Miguel Castro got Yan Gomes on a grounder to third.
Hunter Harvey gave up a one-out triple to Turner, struck out Adam Eaton and then walked Rendon and Soto, loading the bases before striking out Cabrera to end the eighth on his 32nd pitch.
“It’s kind of crazy,” Harvey said. “You don’t always want to put yourself in that situation. I trusted [catcher Pedro Severino]. He knows these guys pretty good. He played with them. I went with him, and I trusted him, and it worked out.”
Harvey was extended more than he had been in his previous three appearances.
“I didn’t want him to throw too many pitches,” Hyde said. “That was the problem. But I do want Hunter to experience major league baseball at the end of a game. Which is having to go through Rendon and Soto as the tying run and not giving in and able to compose himself. The last pitch he threw, the 32nd, was 99. So to be able to reach back and get Cabrera there is huge. It’s just going to give him confidence.”
Harvey’s debut came at Fenway Park, in a carnival atmosphere. He then pitched twice at home in front of smallish crowds. The Nationals Park attendance was 24,496, but in the midst of a tight game, they were excited.
“That was pretty fun, especially having the crowd going crazy,” Harvey said. “It really had the adrenaline pumping.”
After losing 13 of 14, the Orioles have won five of seven. The atmosphere showed Harvey what it would be like in late August games that are meaningful for the Orioles.
“I hope so. I’m sure we will be,” Harvey said. “Just getting this little taste. Everybody pitched here today, and that’s what we need to do if we want to eventually be a contending team, and that’s a good start.”
Mychal Givens pitched a 1-2-3 ninth. Givens has thrown six straight scoreless outings and his ERA is 4.18, the lowest it’s been since mid-May.
Brooks had to sweat out the eighth to get the win.
“It was scary,” Brooks said. “I knew they had it.”
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