The Baltimore Orioles have opened the season better than any previous O’s squad. They have 19 wins, the most before May in franchise history, and not only are in second in the AL East, but hold the second best record in the American League.
Coming off five straight series wins, the Orioles traveled to Detroit for a four-game series against the Tigers. This series had strong performances and once again showed that the Orioles are not out of any game and can win in various ways.
Let’s see how the games unfolded:
Game 1: O’s 7, DET 4
Kyle Gibson (4-0) was taking the mound looking for his fifth victory in game one. Unfortunately for the Birds, Gibby was off, allowing 10 base runners on 4.1 innings, in which he allowed three earned runs.
The Orioles were up for the task, as the team’s No. 7 prospect, Joey Ortiz, was making his major league debut and was the crucial piece in the victory.
The first Orioles rookie since Don Baylor in 1970, Ortiz would not only collect his first major league hit but pick up three RBIs in his debut. He brought the O’s within one run in the fifth and the seventh innings and helped keep the Birds in the game before Baltimore seized control with an Anthony Santander two-run home run.
The bullpen would pitch 4.2 innings of no-hit, one-run ball. Bryan Baker (2-0) picked up the win, and Félix Bautista collected his sixth save in the 7-4 victory.
Game 2: O’s 4, DET 7
Dean Kremer was trying to make the case that he was turning things around. Starting the first game of the doubleheader, Kremer faltered as the Tigers pounced on his early season struggles.
Kremer (2-1) allowed 11 hits and two walks while allowing five earned runs in five innings of work. Though he struck out six, he threw 89 pitches (57 strikes), including a wild pitch and a balk.
D.L. Hall returned to the club for the doubleheader as the 27th man and pitched a strong three innings to save the bullpen. Though he allowed two earned runs, Hall would strike out seven of the 15 batters he faced, as he looked more poised in his third major league stint.
The Orioles were down 5-1 by the fourth inning and eventually would fall 7-4 aided by a solo home run from James McCann (2) and a three-run home run by Jorge Mateo (5).
Game 3: O’s 6, DET 4
Grayson Rodriguez is finding out that as good as he was in the minors, the skillset in the majors is vastly different. For the O’s top pitching prospect, learning this on the fly seems to be working in Baltimore’s favor.
Rodriguez (1-0) would toss five scoreless innings, allowing just two hits as he struck out a career-high nine batters to earn his first major league victory.
Joining in on the fun, rookie Ortiz collected his fourth RBI, and Austin Hays picked up one as well. But it was Ryan McKenna who picked up three RBIs, a two-run homer included, to help lead the Birds.
Though Keegan Akin (three earned runs) and Mike Baumann (one earned run) allowed Detroit to claw back into the game, the tandem of Bryan Baker, Danny Coulombe, Yennier Canó and Félix Bautista (seventh save) kept the Tigers from clawing ahead and led the Orioles to the 6-4 victory.
Game 4: O’s 5, DET 3
Kyle Bradish was coming off one of his worst career starts and was looking to show the Orioles that it was more a fluke than anything. Bradish seemed dialed in and ready for the challenge.
The young right-hander would keep the Tigers’ lineup guessing through four innings, as they struggled to generate much offense. Unfortunately, come the fifth inning, Bradish would allow Detroit to jump back in the game by allowing three earned runs.
Bradish finished his day going 4.2 innings, allowing three earned runs on six hits. He walked one and struck out five, throwing 78 pitches (48 strikes).
On offense, the Orioles scored a run in each inning from the second to the fifth to pull out to a 4-3 lead. Led by Ryan Mountcastle’s two doubles (his first extra base hits and RBI in two weeks), the Birds had eight of nine starters reach base. Adam Fraizer (3) and Jorge Mateo (6) each hit solo home runs to aid in the scoring.
The bullpen, consisting of Cionel Pérez, Austin Voth (1-1), Danny Coulombe and Yennier Canó (second save) picked Bradish up by tossing 4.1 innings of one-hit ball, striking out seven, en route to the 6-4 victory.
The Orioles are now a Baltimore franchise best 19-9 heading into May. They have won six straight series and won the season series against Detroit, 6-1.
In order for the Orioles to take advantage of the series, they needed to force the Tigers’ starting pitchers to elevate their pitch count to reach the Detroit bullpen.
The Tigers’ starters never made it past 5.2 innings and threw 86, 98, 102 and 83 pitches, allowing them to tire and the Orioles to take advantage of the weak bullpen.
This led to the Orioles winning three of the four games, as the Detroit starters combined for 21 innings and 12 runs (11 earned) for a 4.71 ERA in the series. This ultimately was the deciding factor in the series.
The Birds are off Monday before traveling to Kansas City for a three-game set. With a series streak of six straight victories, the O’s will look to continue their winning ways and start May off on the right foot.
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