The Baltimore Orioles remained in second place in the American League East Division in the third week of June and were poised to take first place until stumbling through two losses in week 12 of the season.
(June 17-19) O’s Beat Tigers, 2 games to 1, in Series
Baltimore’s three-game series against the Detroit Tigers didn’t start out as great as it ended as the Orioles lost Game One, 5-1. The O’s simply couldn’t match pitching power with the Tigers’ starting right-hand pitcher Max Scherzer, who dominated Baltimore’s batters for his 10th win of the season. Scherzer chalked up 10 strikeouts in just six innings and became the first Detroit pitcher since George Mullin in 1909 to start the season 10-0.
Meanwhile, Baltimore called up righty Jake Arrieta from Triple A team in Norfolk to fill in for injured starter Jason Hammel. Unfortunately for the O’s, Arrieta couldn’t handle the pressure of the big leagues, giving up five runs in just four innings before he was pulled off the mound.
Baltimore bounced back, however, in Game Two as they got the best of Tigers’ ace pitcher, Justin Verlander. J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones both hit homeruns against Verlander, one of the best pitchers in MLB, quickly building the O’s a 5-run lead by the fifth inning. Baltimore was able to hold on to a 5-2 win, thanks to sharp pitching from its bullpen. Closer Jim Johnson recorded his 26th save of the season.
Baltimore then followed up with an even more impressive performance in Game Three, closing out the series with a 13-3 victory. The O’s put on a batting clinic, recording their largest offensive output since the 2010 season. It all started with Chris Davis who hit two home runs and five RBIs; Davis finished the game with a league-high 26 homers.
Davis’ batting rubbed off on his teammates as Baltimore recorded 17 hits as a team in the game. Starting pitcher Chris Tillman was able to pick up an easy win, his eight of the season.
(June 21-22) Baltimore Loses Back-to-Back in Toronto
Unfortunately for Baltimore, they ended the week with two straight losses to the Toronto Blue Jays, marking the second time this month they lost back-to-back games. Adam Jones extended his hit-streak to 17 straight games and Chris Davis hit his 27th homerun of the season in Game One of the series, but it didn’t stop the Orioles from losing the game. The O’s called on Pedro Strop from the bullpen, but he gave up a walk-off home run in the ninth inning to Toronto’s Rajai Davis as the Blue Jays won, 7-6.
Game Two was more painful for Baltimore as Jones’ hitting streak finally ended. O’s starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez had a decent performance, giving up just two runs in seven innings. However reliever Darren O’Day gave up a two-run homer in the eighth inning pushing Toronto to a 4-2 win.
The Orioles still stand in second place of the American East division with a 42-33 record, but they were very close to surpassing the Boston Red Sox for first place had they not suffered the two-game losing streak to close this week.
Both losses came down to pitching errors. This week, though, it wasn’t poor pitching from the starters that haunted the team. It was the bullpen that hurt Baltimore, which is unusual considering how well the O’s relief pitchers have performed this season.
O’s Player of the Week: Chris Davis
Davis recorded seven hits, four home runs, and nine RBI during the week. He leads the league with 27 home runs this season.
The Orioles will host the Cleveland Indians in a four-game series on June 24-27 in Baltimore at Camden Yards, followed by a three-game series against the New York Yankees on June 28-30.