Back-to-back pinch-hit home runs and Santander's blast propel Orioles to comeback win over Nationals; Harvey update -

Rich Dubroff

Back-to-back pinch-hit home runs and Santander’s blast propel Orioles to comeback win over Nationals; Harvey update

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

WASHINGTON—Through seven innings, Washington Nationals pitchers Austin Voth, Javy Guerra and Tanner Rainey had shut down the Orioles on just two hits.

Trailing by three runs, their dormant offense woke up against Sean Doolittle. Pat Valaika and Pedro Severino, half of the Orioles’ trimmed-down, four-man bench, hit consecutive pinch-hit home runs to start the eighth, trimming Nationals’ lead was 3-2.

Manager Davey Martinez removed Doolittle for Daniel Hudson after he struck out Chris Davis. Austin Hays walked, Hanser Alberto singled to left, and Anthony Santander hit an opposite-field home run to left, his third. Not far from the home run, the Orioles’ bullpen erupted, with Miguel Castro leading the cheers.

The Orioles had turned a 3-0 deficit into a 5-3 lead.

Santander credited Hays for his 11-pitch walk, and Alberto’s single.

“That set the tone for my at-bat,” he said through a translator.

“A grinder at-bat,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “That’s what you love to see.”

Hyde knew Santander’s ball had a chance to go out.

“I was screaming to ‘get up’ and ‘stay fair,’” Hyde said. “I was screaming at myself to try to get that ball to stretch.”


The Orioles’ 5-3 win gave them an unlikely series win. On Sunday, Asher Wojciechowski, working on three days ‘rest, will go for the sweep against Stephen Strasburg, making his 2020 debut.

Shawn Armstrong, the Orioles’ fourth pitcher, threw 1 2/3 scoreless innings for the win. Cole Sulser pitched the eighth, walking Starlin Castro and Juan Soto with one out before retiring Howie Kendrick on a grounder back to the box and striking out Eric Thames.

Castro pitched a hitless ninth for the save.

“I hadn’t thrown [Sulser] in five days, so he was pitching in this game regardless,” Hyde said. “He showed rustiness a little bit. I’ve got to not do that. I would have considered sending him back out there for the ninth if it was a quick inning.”

The comeback victory followed their 11-0 drubbing of Washington on Friday night when they had 19 hits. The Orioles  evened their record at 7-7.

According to STATS, it was the third time in Orioles history they’d hit back-to-back pinch-hit home runs. The last time was on August 12, 1985 when Wayne Gross and Larry Sheets did it. They also did it on August 26, 1966 when Vic Roznovsky and Boog Powell went back-to-back against the Red Sox.

Because the Orioles had a doubleheader on Wednesday, they needed another starter, and Hyde chose Thomas Eshelman, who allowed two runs on five hits in four innings.

Soto hit his first home of the season to lead off the second, a drive that just cleared the left-field wall. Kurt Suzuki’s sacrifice fly scored the second run later in the inning.

Tanner Scott’s throwing error in the sixth helped lead to the third run on Thames’ double to center.

Eshelman was watching the comeback away from the field.

“I was fired up,” Eshelman said. “I was ecstatic in the clubhouse.”

Harvey update: Hunter Harvey has yet to pitch this season because of a right forearm strain. Harvey is rehabbing at Bowie.

“I would say he’s still more like than three weeks away,” Hyde said. “He’s still in his throwing progression. It’s going very, very well. We’re very encouraged about his progress. I would hope we’d get him at some point at the end of this month.”

Less outfield depth: In the past three days, the Orioles optioned DJ Stewart and Cedric Mullins to the Bowie alternate site, leaving them with no pure outfielders on the bench.

Saturday’s reserves were Severino and another catcher, Bryan Holaday, utility players Valaika and Andrew Velázquez.

“The wild card for us is Velazquez, who’s able to play multiple positions, all three spots in the outfield,” Hyde said. “I feel comfortable playing him both middle spots in the infield, so he really helps us out from a versatility standpoint, able to play outfield defense late, able to play shortstop for us, able to run.

“It’s nice to have somebody so versatile so I can insert him where needed. That’s really the reason. Cedric did a great job defensively for us. I was using him for defense late with the lead, but I really feel comfortable with Velazquez as well.”

Three catchers: It was a bit of a surprise when the Orioles added a third catcher to their 30-man roster, but Holaday has impressed Hyde with his leadership, and he survived the cut to 28 on Thursday.

Holaday began the season with the Orioles’ three-man taxi squad along with Eshelman and utilityman Dilson Herrera.

The taxi squad, which was increased to five for road games when rosters were cut to 28, must include a catcher, who can warm up pitchers in the bullpen. The others can’t dress for the game.

“I was actually one of the lucky ones on the taxi squad,” Holaday said. “For that road trip to Boston, I was suited up in the bullpen, catching some guys. Got to watch a big league game.”

After the Orioles returned home from their postponed games in Miami, Holaday returned to the Bowie for a few days until his contract was purchased.

“Going there, I didn’t know what to expect,” Holaday said “I didn’t know much about what was going on. The Orioles are doing a tremendous job with it. The structure of the whole thing, how they’ve spaced guys out, allows you to get a ton of work in in the amount of time you’re given.

“It’s definitely good for the young guys, but it helped me out a ton. I was able to get a ton of at-bats there.”

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB



  1. musicmanjr

    August 9, 2020 at 7:52 am

    Most satisfying and unexpected win of the year. Watched the game on the Nationals MASN channel. Bob Carpenter and F.P. Santangelo were going on and on about the Nats Gold uniforms until the O’s exploded in the 8th. The look on both their faces was priceless.

  2. Raveonjo

    August 9, 2020 at 8:03 am

    I said it before; this year could be as interesting as the war-torn 1944 season. Who will be this year’s St. Louis Browns, the Orioles? the Marlins? maybe both!

  3. Bhoffman1

    August 9, 2020 at 8:39 am

    Hyde’s positive acolytes about Velazquez versatility is nice but he’s been useless at the plate and makes Stevie W look like a stud. Still again it was a great win amazing that Severino and Pat hit pinch hit homers. I was commenting that our bench was filled with weak hitters. I would like to see Sisco face a LH pitcher I feel he stays firm in the box and will be able to hit them. Obviously against a LH pitcher we have a glaring weakness in LF . Wouldn’t it be nice to see either RM or YD penciled in.

  4. Orial

    August 9, 2020 at 8:47 am

    Very impressive win. The pitching’s been the difference enabling the team to kreep back into games instead of being out of it by the 3rd-4th inning as in the recent past. A shortage in the OF. Gee who could we call up(sarcasm)? See ya soon Mr. Mountcastle(I hope). These constant Harvey arm issues have me wondering if it’s all a part of his still developing body. He’s young. Just hope he isn’t new enigma. The “one that coulda,shoulda). Everytime I start to prefer Sisco over Severino he lays an egg at the plate(2 soft Ks) and Severino comes up bashing the ball. Oh well it’s all a moot point–Mr. Rutschman is on the way.

  5. Phil770

    August 9, 2020 at 9:10 am

    As I said in a previous post, O’s have too many one dimensional players. Sisco is not that good of a catcher, he seems to hit better when he is DH, PH, or a less demanding defensive position. Severity o deserves to start most of the games.

    • CalsPals

      August 9, 2020 at 9:57 am

      Almost seems like he only excels (big hits) when he has been replaced & is coming off the bench…go O’s…

  6. CalsPals

    August 9, 2020 at 10:00 am

    Interesting to see Sisco greet Severino after his big hit & everyone be as excited as COVID will allow, them to see CD sitting there, looking pissed off at the world, mirrors how he’s playing, I really guess he doesn’t feel like he fits in, who did he really play with…not only is he struggling at the plate, he doesn’t fit in with the kids…go O’s…

  7. Boog Robinson Robinson

    August 9, 2020 at 10:29 am

    Rich …. you know what’s great? Reading your stuff when you finally have something “baseball” to write about, and are actually reporting the results of a game! Thanks for hanging in there this year!

    I know that considering the results, I don’t have much of, or any for that matter, a leg to stand on, but I’m not crazy about the Valaika for Sisco pinch hit. I know … lefty vs. righty thing … but I think you need to show some faith in the kid. He only has 39 lifetime at bats against leftys. How does one learn to hit when not given an opportunity? And allowing him his chances to be the hero might be advisable.

    That being said, great job by Valaika and another clutch hit by the guy! Elias may have found something with this kid. Hyde obviously made the correct strategic move inserting him when he did. What the heck do I know, I’m simply a shill for Sisco.

    Great win, great fun … it’s been a while since I hollered at my TV !!

    • CalsPals

      August 9, 2020 at 11:30 am

      Me too, at least yell at it positively…lol…go O’s…

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 9, 2020 at 2:37 pm

      Thank you, Ken.

  8. CalsPals

    August 9, 2020 at 1:18 pm

    Why don’t they give poor Valaika a respectable number, while their at it Alberto too, they have numbers like spring training & “I won’t be here too long”…go O’s…

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 9, 2020 at 2:38 pm

      Perhaps they like those numbers, Ray.

    • CalsPals

      August 9, 2020 at 3:13 pm

      Thanks, Rich.

  9. dlgruber1

    August 9, 2020 at 3:15 pm

    I know we’re all watching the game today and all I can think about now is that Buck Showalter would absolutely be going NUTS right now. Not because of the game, if it’s called now the O’s win. No, he’d be going nuts because of the totally embarrassing inefficiency of the grounds crew. How in the hell can this happen?!

  10. CalsPals

    August 9, 2020 at 3:22 pm

    Question for next week, for a 25 yr old, Hunter Harvey has had a career worth of injuries already, is he seriously someone the O’s can count on in the future?

  11. Bhoffman1

    August 9, 2020 at 5:44 pm

    I just read the game was suspended and will resume Friday at Camden Yards with Nats as home team. Isn’t 5 innings official game or new rules this year

  12. CalsPals

    August 9, 2020 at 5:56 pm

    Hoff, feel free to comment on the latest post, we started to kinda address it…go O’s…

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