Bob Haynie: The Orioles Close In On First Place
Because of a rain-soaked week in Baltimore, the Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates were forced to play a doubleheader on Thursday night at Camden Yards. The Birds took care of business by winning both games against the reeling Pirates and now hit the road on a positive note.
On a night in which 3B Manny Machado returned to the field, the Orioles took a couple of steps closer to the top of the American League East. As Baltimore heads to Minnesota to face the Twins, they are only a half-game behind the first-place New York Yankees in the division.
With three hits and two RBI’s, Steve Pearce was the hero of the Orioles 5-1 win over Pittsburgh in the day’s first game. Pearce, who was re-signed by the club this week, helped pitcher Bud Norris pick up his second win of the season.
In the nightcap, C Matt Wieters hit a 10th inning homer off Pirates reliever Stolmy Pimentel to give the Orioles a dramatic 6-5 victory for the sweep. Wieters’ heroics completed a comeback from a 4-0 deficit and helped bail out starter Chris Tillman.
RF Nick Markakis homered in both games for his first two long flies of the season.
Prior to going 0 for 5, Machado received a rousing ovation from the crowd at Camden Yards. With 1B Chris Davis on the DL, Machado’s return is vital to the success of the team.
As for Tillman, he struggled through 4.2 IP. He threw 49 pitches in the first inning and has now posted three-straight starts in which he failed to pitch six innings. Norris (5.1 IP) didn’t make it through six either. He did, however, only allow one run.
Ubaldo Jimenez, Wei-Yin Chen and Miguel Gonzalez will be manager Buck Showalter’s starting pitchers for the Minnesota series. Jimenez, who is still looking for his first win as an Oriole, will be facing a Twins team on Friday that has lost three-straight and is 6-8 at Target Field.
Minnesota’s pitching is bad. Their team ERA of 5.09 is the worst in the AL.
The Birds are creeping up the standings as we are now into the month of May. If they want to make first place their permanent home, they need to get that starting pitching straightened out.
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