In as many outings, the Baltimore Orioles have now seen two quality starts in a ballpark that was traditionally harsh on their pitching staff. Last night Wade Miley set the tone early, and save for one semi-rough inning was a real work horse for the Birds Miley’s line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 8 K.
I’ve always said that it begins and ends with starting pitching. And in that sense the starting pitching’s been pretty good the last two nights. Miley did run into some problems in the second, however Toronto had their share of help which had nothing to do with pitching. Overall, a very well pitched game from the Orioles’ standpoint, and that sets the table for wins.
The Birds took a 1-0 lead when Chris Davis scored from third on a wild pitch. Incidentally on the flip side, when things aren’t going well those are the kinds of things that will happen in games – we’ve seen it with the Orioles many times. Toronto would tie the game in the bottom of that second inning with a Smoak RBI-single, and Miley allowed a second run in a Machado error. Miley had induced a ground ball that would have almost certainly ended the inning with a double-play (although you can’t assume the double-play), however a run scored as Machado bobbled the ball in the field.
For a short period it appeared that Smoak was going to steal the show, as he extended the Toronto lead to 3-1 in the last of the fourth with a solo home run. But one inning later the Birds were back in command. Jonathan Schoop‘s solo homer brought the O’s to within 3-2, and later in the inning J.J. Hardy smacked a two-run homer of his own to give the Birds the lead back at 4-3.
However luckily the O’s got some insurance later in the game, which they probably ended up needing. Solo homers by Chris Davis in the sixth and Seth Smith in the ninth put the Orioles ahead 6-3. Toronto threatened in the last of the ninth agains, as Travis’ RBI-single brought them to within 6-4. However the Birds recorded the final out without anymore drama, running their league-best record to 7-2.
Again, it begins and ends with starting pitching. Miley put his team in a position to win last night by pitching strongly. That makes a world of difference, and after the game he discussed the fact that he had improved over his last outing (quote courtesy of Steve Melewski, MASNsports):
I just spent some time slowing down a little bit throughout the week and slowing my delivery down and I was able to command the fastball a little better. I had the breaking ball a little bit as well. I was able to throw the backdoor slider and then bury it when I needed to. Caleb did an outstanding job. I can’t say enough about the way we worked together. I’d seen him working back there hard for me and it’s a pretty good feeling. Definitely the command was there tonight, where it was nonexistent the other day.
As I’ve said before, pitchers are going to have ten good games, ten poor, and ten in between over the course of a season. File this one under the good category for Miley. Having a starting pitcher set the tone for the game makes a world of difference. And as I said, in the past two games it’s come in a ballpark at Rogers Centre where the O’s have struggled in the past.
One scary moment of the game occurred in the eighth inning when home plate umpire Dale Scott took a foul tip off his mask and fell to the ground. The game was halted for approximately 15 minutes as both teams’ medical staffs attended to Scott, who was eventually carted off the field. He was later diagnosed with a concussion, and will not work the rest of the series. So I’m sending my best thoughts his way, along with hopes for a speedy recovery.
The series continues this afternoon in Toronto. Alec Asher (who in essence is now the Orioles’ fifth starter) will make his maiden start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Toronto’s Marco Estrada. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.