Observations from and analysis of the Orioles’ series victory over the Tigers
Game 1: 6-0 win on Friday night (April 27)
Game 2: 9-5 loss on Saturday night (April 28)
Game 3: 5-3 win on Sunday afternoon (April 29)
1. This was just the Orioles’ second series win this season, improving them to 8-20 overall. Do this about 10 more times over the next month, and we have a season to talk about. That’s the kind of hole the O’s have dug for themselves. This goes down as a horrendous April. Good riddance.
2. As I’ve said many times, when the O’s homer, they win. And sure enough, what happened in this series? The O’s didn’t homer on Saturday night and lost. But the O’s hit three homers on Friday night and three homers on Sunday afternoon and won both of those games.
Pedro Alvarez blasted two homers in each win in this series. He in the 6-0 win over the Tigers on Friday night had a two-out first-pitch solo shot in the bottom of the fifth and a two-run bomb in the bottom of the seventh. Alvarez then in the 5-3 win over the Tigers on Sunday afternoon had a full-count two-run shot in the bottom of the second off having been down 1-2 in the count and a leadoff homer in the bottom of the eighth. Alvarez now is second on the O’s with six homers despite being just seventh on the team with 70 plate appearances this season. This is a guy who had 22 homers and a .504 slugging percentage for the O’s in 2016 but then had just 34 plate appearances last season. I have advocated for seeing more of him, and hopefully we start to see that. I get that he is a major defensive liability, but his bat plays.
Manny Machado had two-out solo bomb in the bottom of the first on Friday night. Trey Mancini had a leadoff homer in the bottom of the first on Sunday afternoon.
3. Chris Tillman, incredibly, was great in the 6-0 win on Friday night. He tossed seven scoreless innings – yes, seven scoreless innings! – on five strikeouts versus just one hit, two walks and a hit-by-pitch. I have advocated for Tillman to be removed from the rotation given how horrendous he has been since the start of last season. One gem of a start doesn’t significantly change things. Ubaldo Jimenez did this for the O’s for years – he would have a really good start once every, say, five outings, doing just enough to make you think that more good would consistently come. But save for a few stretches, that never happened. Look, I hope that the Tillman of 2014 and 2016 is back. But I need to see a lot more of what we saw on Friday night before I’m anywhere close to saying that.
4. Andrew Cashner in the 9-5 loss on Saturday night was bad for a third consecutive start and fourth time in six starts as an Oriole, allowing seven runs (six earned) in four innings. He gave up five runs over the first two innings, with the big blow being a two-out three-run homer by Miguel Cabrera to put the O’s down 5-0 in the top of the second. That kind of hit allowed is so demoralizing and has happened so often already this Orioles season.
5. Kevin Gausman wasn’t particularly good in the 5-3 win over the Tigers on Sunday afternoon. He allowed just one run in 5 2/3 innings but gave up a homer, a double, three singles and three walks, threw just 66 of 106 pitches for strikes and left the game with the bases loaded.
6. Orioles relievers combined to allow four runs in 10 1/3 innings in the series.
Richard Bleier and Mychal Givens each tossed a scoreless inning in the 6-0 win over the Tigers on Friday night. Bleier leads all Orioles pitchers with a 1.1 bWAR this season.
Brad Brach allowed two runs in the top of the seventh on a one-out single and back-to-back two-out doubles in the 5-3 win over the Tigers on Sunday afternoon.