BALTIMORE—Fourteen pitches into Sunday’s game, Orioles starter Wade LeBlanc was clearly hurting. The 36-year-old left-hander had allowed a leadoff home run to Boston’s Kevin Pillar. After walking Xander Bogaerts with two outs, LeBlanc threw a first-pitch ball to Christian Vazquez, and then quickly left the game.
LeBlanc was diagnosed with left elbow discomfort, and he’s scheduled for an MRI on Monday.
In the seventh inning, Pedro Severino singled to center and appeared to favor his right leg as he was running to first. He left with tightness in his right hip flexor, and he’ll also be examined further.
“We’ll wait and see with both those guys,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “I don’t want to jump to conclusions on either one of them. We’ll wait to see the results tomorrow. We’re going to enjoy the win, and hope both guys are OK.”
Thomas Eshelman was summoned and delivered a magnificent 4 1/3 innings in relief of LeBlanc. He walked Vazquez before retiring 13 straight.
“Tommy won us the game,” Hyde said. “He got 13 outs. Really locating everything so well, not a ton of hard contact.”
The Orioles’ 5-4 win over Boston was their second straight, earned them a split of the four-game series and sends them into Monday’s offday with a 14-14 record.
“Honestly, I’m just glad we won the last two games of this series,” Hyde said. “I’m not really concerned about the record. It’s more about how we play. I’d like to clean up some things offensively, a little bit better job situationally hitting, but a win’s a win, and it’s nice to get a split after losing the first two.”
While Eshelman worked his way through the Red Sox lineup, Boston starter Zack Godley was affording the Orioles numerous scoring opportunities in the first two innings.
The Orioles loaded the bases with two outs in the first inning, but didn’t score, and left Ryan Mountcastle on third after his leadoff double in the second.
“We wasted some opportunities, so many, early in the game,” Hyde said. “That was disappointing, but Tommy kept pitching and giving us some length.”
By the time Godley left the game in the third inning, he had walked the bases loaded with two outs.
Orioles third baseman Rio Ruiz’s single against Jeffrey Springs scored Severino and Chance Sisco, and Andrew Velázquez’s bunt single scored Mountcastle, who walked, and the Oriole led, 3-1.
Eshelman didn’t have much time to prepare.
“That was the first time doing that in my entire career,” he said. “I tried to get the team in the dugout real quick. It was definitely an interesting experience.
“I was just trying to get it to the fifth, like I did. That was my mindset going into that …We had arms today to do that.”
Miguel Castro relieved Eshelman to start the sixth and nearly lost the lead.
Pillar singled and, with one out, J.D. Martinez walked. Pillar stole third and scored on Bogaerts’ double to right that Anthony Santander barely missed at the wall, preventing Martinez from getting a good jump and forcing him to stop at third. That was important because when Vazquez bounced to second baseman Pat Valaika, he fired home to Severino, who tagged Martinez.
After Paul Fry pitched a scoreless seventh, Severino led off the seventh with a single against Robert Stock on which he hurt his hip. Severino left the game for pinch-runner and backup catcher Bryan Holaday.
“He wanted to stay in the game,” Hyde said.
Sisco walked. Valaika moved both runners up with a sacrifice, and they scored on Ruiz’s two-out two-run double that sailed over the head of Pillar in left field.
Ruiz’s four RBIs were a career high. Hyde moved him down in the batting order after his average fell from .245 on August 13th to .197 entering the game. Ruiz also made two outstanding plays at third.
“I honestly didn’t feel any different at all,” Ruiz said. “Obviously, it is different. I’m four or five spots lower than I already have been. I’ve been working, man. I understand what I’ve been going through. Yeah, it’s frustrating, but I kept working, kept working. It’s the best that I can do.”
Fry struck out Rafael Devers to begin the eighth, and Mychal Givens struck out Martinez and retired Bogaerts on a grounder to third.
Givens struck out Vazquez to begin the ninth, the first time he’s worked in the ninth inning this season, and walked Alex Verdugo. After Kevin Plawecki flied to right, Hyde brought in Tanner Scott to face left-handed hitting Jackie Bradley Jr. Bradley hit a fastball into the left-field stands and, suddenly, it was a one-run game.
Jonathan Arauz singled, and Pillar grounded into a force play to end the game. Scott recorded his first career save.
Anthony Santander’s fourth inning double extended his hitting streak to 18 games, longest by an Oriole since Nick Markakis’ 18-game streak from April 21-May 11, 2014.
After Monday’s offday, the Orioles play three games at Tampa Bay beginning Tuesday night, and four in Buffalo against Toronto before returning home on September 1 to face the New York Mets.
“We’re going to face a great Tampa club,” Hyde said. “They’re playing great baseball right now, so to come out and lose the first two games and not play our best baseball this past week and win a big one [Saturday] night and come back today and not play our best baseball, not our best offensive baseball. We pitched well and to split the series, it’s huge for us.”