ARLINGTON — With the trade deadline finally here, Orioles fans finally know what the Orioles will do for the next few months. For the past few weeks, everyone waited to see if the Orioles would accept their shortcomings and sell, or try to make the playoffs.
This weekend the Orioles officially became buyers and put the mystery to rest.
On Friday, the Orioles got stomped by the Rangers 8-2. The biggest news of the night became the acquisition of Jeremy Hellickson, and the departure of Hyun Soo Kim. The move looks highly questionable and most fans are still not convinced that the Orioles will get better in the coming months. However, all we can do at this point and cheer for the best.
The supposed playoff push didn't get off to the best start on Friday. The Orioles pitching staff gave up eight runs in the first five innings. Tillman got credited with all eight runs, but only gave up six before exiting the game with one out in the fifth. Richard Bleier entered the game and relief. Bleier surrendered a two-RBI single before completing the inning.
The Orioles offense was only able to score two runs in the remaining innings thanks to a Jonathan Schoop home run and Chris Davis RBI single. The loss marked the Orioles' third straight and fifth loss in the past ten games.
Saturday night saw a complete turn-around for the Orioles. The offense jumped out to an early 4-0 lead. Kevin Gausman came very close to a complete-game shutout. Trey Mancini and Caleb Joseph launched two solo home runs in the second inning to start the scoring effort. In the third, Mancini added another run on a fielder's choice. Seth Smith capped off the inning with an RBI single.
This would end up being the only offense produced by either team in the game. Kevin Gausman looked the best he has all season. He tossed 8.2 innings while giving up just seven hits and three walks. The 26-year-old racked up eight strikeouts for the third straight game, while recording another win and moving to 8-7 on the season.
In the past month, Gausman appears to be turning his season around. With the starting rotation being consistently mediocre, it's easy to overlook the occasional quality outings, but Gausman has collected a majority of them recently. Gausman earned a win in his last five decisions. He lowered his ERA to 5.37, which is the lowest its been since April 13.
When Gausman came back out to pitch the ninth inning, tension ensued. Adrian Beltre had picked up his 2,999th career hit earlier in the game and was looking for number 3,000 in his final at-bat of the night. Gausman walked the batter before Beltre, but he got the veteran to ground into a double play, pushing the historic moment back.
Buck Showalter gave Gausman a long leash to complete the game, but ultimately had to bring Zach Britton in after the Rangers picked up a few more base runners. The O's closer made quick work of the final batter and set up a rubber match for Sunday afternoon.
The biggest storyline of the series finale was Beltre's 3,000th hit, but the Orioles still walked away with a 10-6 victory and their first road series win since the end of June. Beltre struck out in his first at-bat, but came through in the fourth inning with a double down the left field line. After an extended celebration of the historic moment, the third baseman came around to score one of the Rangers' first two runs of the game.
The Orioles offense stayed hot at the plate, scoring 10 runs in the series finale. It all started in the fourth with three RBI singles in a row by Mancini, Davis, and Castillo. Ruben Tejada added the fourth run of the inning on a fielder's choice.
In the fifth inning, Jonathan Schoop hit a two-run homer and Welington Castillo followed with a three-run homer to make it a 9-2 game. Schoop's excellent afternoon continued in the sixth with an RBI single that put the Orioles' run total in double digits. The second baseman went 4/11 with four RBI's and two home runs in the weekend series against Texas.
Wade Miley took the mound in the finale and made it through five innings, giving up two runs. It was a typical outing for Miley that featured a bloated pitch count. Despite falling behind a lot of batters, Miley only surrendered one walk.
The Orioles bullpen had some trouble closing out the final four innings and gave up a combined four runs. Six relievers entered the game after Miley. In the end, it all worked out. Britton picked up his eighth save of the year.
Miley's performance earned him his fifth win of the season. This is just the second time in the month of July that Miley has given up less than five runs. The Orioles will gladly take this exceptional outing as they continue to battle for a wildcard spot.
The Birds return to Camden Yards on Monday to face Kansas City. The Royals currently sit in the second American league wildcard spot, making this upcoming series crucial for the O's. They still remain 5.5 games back. A series win will improve that.
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