BALTIMORE — Baltimore’s Mike Wright admittedly pitched with a “vengeance” when given another shot at staying in the Orioles’ starting rotation.
His teammates rewarded him with another impressive display of power.
Baltimore’s Mark Trumbo and Matt Wieters each hit solo homers in the decisive seventh inning to support a solid performance by Wright, leading the Orioles past the Kansas City Royals 4-1 on Monday.
“I just tried to keep the ball on the ground and so I really focused on keeping the ball down and letting our Gold Glove infield work,” Wright said. “I thought I did that really well.”
Manny Machado got his 15th home run of the season for the Orioles, who have won five of six and sit atop the American League East. The Royals, meanwhile, lost their fifth straight after enduring a four-game weekend road sweep by the Cleveland Indians.
Wright had suffered the shortest start of his young career in his last outing June 1 when he allowed six runs on seven hits in just 2 2/3 innings. He was sent down to Triple-A Norfolk the following day, but was recalled Friday when reliever Darren O’Day (hamstring) was placed on the disabled list.
This time, Wright (3-3) was much more effective after being the named the starter following Sunday’s rain-delayed game against the Yankees. Wright allowed one unearned run on five hits with four strikeouts and two walks over seven innings.
“He got a do-over,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said about Wright. “Not many people do. I think he would have eventually gotten one anyway, but it came a little faster. It’s kind of like we got the benefits. Like I said before, I don’t care how well you pitch down there, when you’ve had some challenges up here, you don’t really gain all the answers just from going down there. But it’s kind of like he took all the things we’ve been talking that he’s capable of doing better and he did them tonight. We’ll see what the future holds.”
Orioles closer Zach Britton picked up his 18th save.
The Royals got back-to-back singles by Paulo Orlando and Cheslor Cuthbert in the seventh. Jarrod Dyson then hit a sharp grounder to shortstop Manny Machado, who flicked the ball to second baseman Jonathan Schoop for a force out. However, Schoop’s attempt to throw to first base to complete a double play hit Cuthbert on the right arm, allowing Orlando to score. Cuthbert left the game with a contusion and is day-to-day.
“I think everything will be okay,” Cuthbert said. “When I slid, I felt like a shock and then my arm just went to sleep. I couldn’t feel anything. I got nervous.”
Trumbo answered for Baltimore with his league-leading 19th homer in the bottom half of the inning, and two batters later, Wieters hit another solo shot to center off Royals starter Danny Duffy. Adam Jones added an RBI double off reliever Luke Hochevar later that inning for a 3-1 lead.
“(Wright) kept us in it,” Wieters said. “Duffy threw the ball great. We were finally able to get a couple balls on the barrel and they just happened to carry over the fence.”
Despite the loss, Duffy (1-1) continued a string of effective performances since rejoining the rotation in mid-May. He allowed two runs on five hits and tied a career high with nine strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings.
“Efficiency-wise and location and doing everything I wanted to do with the baseball, it was really good,” Duffy said. “I feel I really made one bad pitch. That was to Wieters. I didn’t feel the Trumbo pitch was too bad. What can you do? You’ve got to tip your hat to them.”
Machado added another solo homer off Kelvin Herrera for the 4-1 lead.
Jonathan Schoop got the Orioles’ first hit with a leadoff single off Duffy in the third. Paul Janish then reached on a bunt toward first base. After Jones moved the runners up with another bunt, Duffy got out of the jam by striking out Joey Rickard and Manny Machado.
Duffy got hit in the side of his left shin on a hard liner by Mark Trumbo in the fourth. He walked down the third-base foul line in obvious pain. However, after a few warmup pitches, he was able to stay in the game.
“I thought Danny was fantastic,” Yost said. “He took that shot from Trumbo off the leg. That’s a tough spot — right in the middle of the calf. That thing has a tendency to tighten up. Dan did a good job between innings to keep walking. He didn’t sit down. He didn’t give it an opportunity to tighten up on him.”