DETROIT—Many fans derided the Orioles’ four-game series with the Detroit Tigers, the teams with the two worst records in baseball. Some felt the Orioles, who beat the Tigers 6-2 on Friday night, would be better off losing the series and perhaps getting the first draft choice for the second straight year.
“As a player, of course, you don’t ever think about that,” said Trey Mancini, who hit his 31st home run and drove in three runs.
“I don’t fault anybody for thinking that. I get it. I understand what they’re saying. No, we definitely want to win these games. We don’t want to have the first pick for the second year in a row. I can tell you as players, that’s certainly not something to be proud of. We’re going out there wanting to win every game still.”
The Orioles won their 48th game, one more than they did last year when they went 47-115. With their 48-99 record, they lead Detroit (43-103) by 4 ½ games for the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft.
The Orioles had lost 10 of their previous 12.
Aaron Brooks pitched 5 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on seven hits, walking two. In Brooks’ last start on September 7, he gave up seven runs, six earned, in 2 2/3 innings.
“It was a great game,” Mancini said. “We played some really good defense out there and had some timely hitting. Brooksy did such a good job out there. He didn’t necessarily have his best stuff, but he grinded through and gave us a great performance and put us in a position to win the game.”
Along with Gabriel Ynoa, who starts Saturday, and Asher Wojciechowski, Sunday’s starter, Brooks is trying to use his remaining starts to secure a place on the 40-man roster over the winter.
“Just show that I can take the ball every five days and give our team a chance to win,” Brooks said.
Jonathan Villar led off the game with a roller that stayed fair for an infield hit. He stole second, moved to third on an infield out and scored on Mancini’s single against Jordan Zimmermann.
The Orioles added three in the fifth on a double by Stevie Wilkerson, DJ Stewart’s second home run, which hit the right-field foul pole, a single by Chance Sisco, a double by Villar, and an infield out by Mason Williams that scored Sisco.
Wilkerson ended the bottom of the fourth by throwing Jordy Mercer out from shallow right when he tried to score on Travis Demeritte’s single.
Brooks left six runners on in the first five innings. Miguel Cabrera flied to deep center, leaving two on to end the fifth.
“He was throwing strikes,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Had his slider going a little bit. Working ahead in the count. Staying aggressive. He’s had a tough time in the first as we’ve talked about his last couple starts and got through it tonight and did a nice job after.”
Christin Stewart doubled to start the sixth. He moved to third on Daniel Lugo’s infield out and scored on Mercer’s single. Shawn Armstrong replaced Brooks and gave up Willi Castro’s RBI single, and the Orioles led, 4-2, after six.
“As a starter, you always want to go out there and put up as many zeroes as you can, especially early for the momentum side of things,” Brooks said.
“It was a little frustrating to get a couple of early outs and then kind of lose a little bit of mechanics, which I felt I was struggling the whole game to get my feet underneath me.”
Mancini’s line-drive home run to right-center with Williams on base against Jose Cisneros to start the seventh put the Orioles ahead, 6-2.
Paul Fry, a Detroit-area native, pitched a 1-2-3 seventh, and Hunter Harvey worked a spotless inning in his first outing since September 2. He threw 11 pitches in the 98-99 mph range. Harvey had been out with biceps soreness.
“I talked to him some this week, and it didn’t sound like anything serious but, obviously, we want to be cautious with Hunter,” Mancini said. “I can’t say enough about him with how he’s done since he’s gotten called up. He’s just electric out there. He’s got such good stuff, so it was real nice to see him pitch and play behind him.”
Mychal Givens worked a scoreless ninth. Overall, the bullpen worked 3 2/3 innings without allowing a run and giving up just two hits.
“It’s been a lot better, a lot better,” Hyde said. “Guys have kind of settled in. When we’re aggressive and working ahead in the count, we do a nice job. It’s when we fall behind and center-cut things in bad spots that we run into trouble. But for the most part our guys have done a nice job working ahead in the count and staying on the attack.”