Baltimore Orioles: 2017 Comeback Kids

The Baltimore Orioles have been marked by their ability to come back in games thus far in the very young 2017 season. We saw that again yesterday, as Hyun-Soo Kim‘s go-ahead RBI-single in the last of the seventh put the O’s in the lead. So if there’s a name we could put on the Orioles through the first week of the season, it would be The Comeback Kids.

Kevin Gausman wasn’t effective in the early part of the game, and he struggled his was through his time in the game. Gausman’s line: 4.2 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 4 K. I always tell people after early-season outings like this that starting pitchers are going to have 10 great outings, 10 poor, and 10 in-between every year. So if you file this one under poor, the Orioles stole a win yesterday.

Gausman to his credit knew his command was off, and made no bones about it after the game (quote courtesy of Steve Melewski, MASNsports):

Obviously, walking the first guy on four straight. I just couldn’t throw a fastball down and away to save my life. From the first pitch on was trying to figure out my mechanics and what I needed to do with my front side. I think it was more mechanically than anything.

Gausman’s issue was in essence runners on base, and he gave up a two-RBI single in the second inning. When guys get on base anything can happen; throw in the fact that the starter’s command is off, and base hits start to bleed through. However the O’s cut the lead in half two innings later on an RBI-single by Welington Castillo. That would be a motif to follow throughout the day.

Gausman compounded matters in the fifth by balking in a run with a runner on third. In a bizarre sequence, he turned and threw to third base – where NY catcher Romine was situated. The home plate umpire saw this as an act of trying to fool the runner, and called Gausman for a balk – allowing the run to score. It was a strange and almost unnatural play, which I think is part of why the balk was called. However the fact is that Gausman never stepped off the rubber – I’ll leave it at that.

Castro was at the plate at the time, and later in the at-bat he smacked an RBI-single to run the score to 4-1 in favor of New York. The runner who scored was previously at first base, and the balk allowed him to advance into scoring position. So all while being off on his command, Gausman did himself no favors in the mental game either.

But these Orioles are the Comeback Kids…you know, the Fighting Showalters. They don’t go quietly into the night! Manny Machado got the comeback rolling in the last of the fifth with an RBI-double, cutting the New York lead in half. Later in the inning Trumbo grounded into a fielder’s choice-RBI, and suddenly the New York lead was only one at 4-3.

But it was the last of the seventh which really sealed it for the Birds. Trumbo’s RBI-single would tie the game at four, letting Gausman off the hook. That brought Kim to the plate later in the inning after Trumbo moved into scoring position, and his RBI-single gave the Orioles the lead at 5-4.

Combine a huge momentum swing like that with the Orioles’ bullpen, and you have a win. Zach Britton knotched his 52nd consecutive save, and the Birds remained undefeated at 4-0. On that note, the Orioles might want to try to build a sizable lead in today’s game to avoid using Britton, who’s appeared in every game thus far.

The series with New York concludes this afternoon. Wade Miley gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by NY’s C.C. Sabathia. The Birds will have to make a roster move prior to the game in order to call Miley up, however at this point it’s unclear who goes out. Game time is set for just after 1:30 PM.

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