The Orioles find themselves in a troubling position after Thursday’s series opener against Cleveland. Both of their reliable starters have pitched poorly on back-to-back nights for the first time all year, and now they’re forced to depend on three others (including one who’s started just one game in the majors this season) to right a rapidly sinking ship in the next three games.
Wei-Yin Chen (L, 7-4) has been very solid for the birds, but not Thursday. Chen gave up a pair of home runs and 6 earned runs over 6.1 innings. He walked 3, hit a batter, gave up 6 hits, and allowed base runners in every inning but the first.
Johnny Damon hit a 90 MPH belt-high fastball into the bleachers in right field in the second, a 3-run homer that would give the tribe all the runs they’d need. But they weren’t done. In the top of the fifth, Shin-Soo Choo leaned out after a fastball over the outer half of the plate, and connected for his seventh homer of the year, a solo shot to left.
Chen was lifted after Lou Marson doubled and Choo walked in the seventh. Luis Ayala was called on to face switch-hitting Asdrubal Cabrera, and the shortstop launched a hanging slider down the right field for his tenth home run of the year.
The Orioles offense continued to do next to nothing. The birds’ only runs, like the Indians’, were via the long ball. But the Orioles hit just one out, a towering, two-run shot to left from JJ Hardy. The birds hit into three more double plays, left six on base, and went just 1-5 with runners in scoring position.
Jake Arrieta (3-9, 5.55) may give the Orioles their best shot to win in this series. He’s pitched well in his last three starts, and Friday, he goes against Cleveland’s Derek Lowe, who hasn’t won since June 1st. Dana Eveland will get his second start of the year Saturday for the Orioles, and the struggling Brian Matusz goes Sunday.
- Hardy’s two hits, including the homer and a double.
- Two more Orioles stolen bases, one from Xavier Avery, and one from, of all people, Matt Wieters.
- Wilson Betemit. Throughout this team-wide offensive nosedive, Betemit’s bat has been sizzling. He went 2-3 with a walk Thursday, and is now 19 for his last 37 (.514).
- Wilson Betemit. With another error, the Orioles third baseman now has a league high 12, including 4 in his last 6 games.
- Brian Roberts, Adam Jones, Chris Davis, and Mark Reynolds were all 0-4. Reynolds struck out 3 times.
- The birds are now 6-63 with runners in scoring position in their last 11 games.
- Fans spent much of this past winter, and even into spring, hearing about how Johnny Damon may be a possible fit for the Orioles. It didn’t happen, obviously, and the veteran signed a 1-year, $1.25 million deal with the Indians in April. Damon’s 3-run shot Thursday was his 22nd career home run at Camden Yards, and the 33rd homer of his career against the Orioles.