BALTIMORE — Getting swept by the Cubs last week felt like a nail in the 2017 Orioles’ coffin, even though the second half had just started. Talk about selling emerged, and it almost appears the Orioles took offense to that as they put together one of their best series performances of the season against Texas.
The Orioles offense outscored the Rangers 34-11 while sweeping the Rangers, but the starting pitching was just as impressive. Chris Tillman, Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman turned in three identical quality starts to help the Orioles win the series. Considering the starting rotation struggled to make it past the fourth inning last week, this was a present surprise.
Game one marked the Orioles first win and quality pitching performance since the All-Star break. Tillman was the starter to break the slump by turning in his best performance of the year. The veteran pitcher gave up just one run on two hits in six innings of work.
The Orioles still found themselves scoreless when Tillman exited the game, so his exceptional outing did not earn him a win. However, the Orioles offense assembled some runs late in the game to win 3-1.
Tillman still searches for his first win since May 7 against the Chicago White Sox.
After Jonathan Schoop tied the game with a sacrifice fly in the sixth, Seth Smith hit his tenth homer of the season to take the lead. Ruben Tejada added another run in the same inning to make it a 3-1 game. The slim lead was nerve-racking for fans, but the O’s bullpen was able to close out the final three innings, giving up just one hit.
The quality pitching continued into Tuesday night’s game as Bundy put together a bounce-back performance on the mound. Bundy picked up his team-leading ninth win of the season by giving up one run and striking out four through six innings.
In his effort, Bundy lowered his ERA for the first time since May 29.
The offense was on fire in the second game, recording 12 runs with ease for a blowout win. A two-RBI double from Schoop, followed by a pair of two-run homers by Chris Davis and Trey Mancini, gave the O’s an early 6-0 lead in the first inning.
In the fourth inning, Davis put the game out of reach with a huge grand slam that landed in the center field bleachers. Davis’ second home run of the game gave the O’s a very comfortable 10-1 lead that they had no problems holding onto. An infield single from Manny Machado, coupled with a solo shot from Smith helped cap off the 12-1 win.
Gausman got the start in game three and ended up turning in a performance identical to Tillman and Bundy. Just like his fellow starters, Gausman gave up one run in six innings of work against the Rangers. The performance moved Gausman to 6-7 on the year.
For a majority of the game, the Orioles held a slim 3-1 lead. Like we saw in game two, the Orioles offense could not be contained for long. The O’s scored seven runs in the seventh inning thanks to a handful of RBI singles and a base-clearing triple by Mancini.
Thursday’s series finale featured less effective pitching from the O’s, but the offense remained potent. Wade Miley got tagged for five runs in just five innings of work. When he exited the game, the Orioles found themselves down by four runs. That didn’t last long. In the fifth inning, home runs from Adam Jones and Mark Trumbo helped the O’s move back to within one run.
Joey Rickard tied it up in the sixth with an RBI single. Jones followed with a double to take the lead. A two-RBI single by Schoop capped off the comeback inning. Just like that, the Orioles sat on top for the first time in the game.
The bullpen looked unstoppable after Miley exited the game. They allowed no hits over the next three innings. Zach Britton entered the game in the ninth, looking to close things out. He ran into some trouble. After surrendering a two-RBI single, the Rangers were only down by two runs. Britton settled down and finished the game.
The win completed the Orioles first four-game sweep since June 26 of last year.
Jones and Schoop led the Orioles offense in this series. Jones went 7-for-17 at the plate with five RBI’s and eight runs, while Schoop added nine RBI’s of his own.
With the trade deadline looming, there remains a lot of talk about what the Orioles are going to do. Multiple reports show the O’s being sellers recently, but you have to wonder what affect this series will have on management’s approach to trading. It would be foolish to dial back your willingness to sell just because you swept an average team like the Rangers at home.
The Orioles finish their home stand this weekend with the American League-leading Astros coming to town. The Orioles hit a rare streak this week with both the offense and pitching producing at a high level. It will be interesting to see if they can carry that momentum into a series against one of the best teams in baseball.
Image Credit: The Herald Mail