Orioles Hitting Woes Lead to Sweep in New York
Following a successful weekend in Atlanta where the Baltimore Orioles (39-30) took 2-of-3, they headed to Queens as interleague play continued.
However, their fate at the hands of the resilient New York Mets (38-32) was less fortunate. The 2nd place squad from the National League East swept the Birds and only allowed three earned runs and six hits all series.
In fact, the Birds were shutout in the first two games, and they did not score in game three until the 8th inning.
In game one, the New York sent the leading Cy Young candidate to the hill in search of his 11th win of the year. The knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (11-1, 2.00 ERA), who has rejuvenated his career this season, looked sharp again as he became the first pitcher in 24 years to throw consecutive one-hitters.
In his previous start, he tossed the controversial one-hitter against the Rays, which was appealed and later denied the reversal. Well, he repeated his previous performance with another one-hitter against the Birds.
However, this time there was no question about the hit he surrendered as Dickey won his major-league leading 11th victory of the year; he is easily on pace for at least 24 wins if he keeps up with this pace.
Dickey set a new career-high with 13 strikeouts against the Birds, breaking his short-lived high of 12 last outing against the Rays. This was the 4th time in his last six outings where he racked up more double digits strikeouts. In the other two starts, he recorded nine and eight respectively.
Wilson Betemit singled with two outs in the 5th inning, breaking the no-hit bid and Dickey’s streak of 13 consecutive hitless innings- a Mets franchise record. He has been the most surprising pitcher in all of the MLB this season, and at 37-years-old, it could be his last chance at a great season.
Jake Arrieta (3-9, 5.83 ERA) made his 2nd start since his reinstatement in the rotation. Up until the 6th inning, he was cruising and they were battling in a scoreless pitcher’s duel.
After a leadoff single, a double and a walk loaded the bases with two outs, Ike Davis smashed a grand slam, his 7th home run of the season putting the Mets up 4-0 with Dickey practically being unhittable.
The Orioles’ hurler lasted seven innings, surrendered four earned runs on six base hits, including the one home run. Although he pitched well for the most part, he suffered his team-leading 9th loss of the year.
In game two, the Mets sent former Cy Young Johan Santana (5-3, 3.00 ERA) to the hill in what seems to be a reversal of dominant pitchers. The southpaw is used to be the leader of the rotation. However, this season, Dickey has been the most prominent starting pitcher in the league.
Regardless, Santana followed up Dickey’s performance with a dazzling gem of his own; he tossed six strong innings, allowed just four base hits, two walks and he struck out five. The combination of Santana and Dickey at the top of a rotation in a best-of-5 series is a force to be reckoned with this year.
Tommy Hunter (3-4, 5.70 ERA) toed the rubber for the Orioles and pitched into the 7th inning. However, he suffered his 4th loss of the year after he was touched up for five earned runs in 6.1 innings of work; he walked one, struck out five and served up one home run.
The Birds’ offense is struggling as of late. After the game two loss, they had not hit a home run in the last five games, the first time since 2010. Earlier in the year, they were leading the league in home runs. Currently, they have 90 and sit in 3rd place.
Over the first two games of the series, the Birds compiled just six base hits. They are going through a funk, and it was the wrong time to travel to New York to face their stellar rotation.
It’s a tough assignment to have to follow-up consecutive shutouts and strong pitching performances. The sophomore Dillon Gee (5-5, 4.27 ERA) came close to blanking the Orioles for a third straight night.
However, the Birds were finally able to score some runs. Although they only posted three runs, it’s something. Betemit broke the 28-inning scoreless streak for the black and orange by launching his 9th home run of the season in the 8th inning.
Gee tossed 7.1 innings, surrendered just those two earned runs on the Betemit home run, three base hits, two free passes and nine strikeouts. After impressing the nation last season by winning eight consecutive decisions in his first year at the major league level, he has struggled this season, but you would not be able to tell after watching him pitch Wednesday night.
After Gee exited the game, the Birds’ bats finally came alive as they recorded just as many hits against the relievers as he did against the Mets’ starter.
The Birds threatened in the 9th inning as they loaded the bases with two down and Brian Roberts at the dish. However, he grounded out softly to 2nd base, sending the Birds packing after a tough series.
Southpaw Brian Matusz (5-8, 5.00 ERA) got the call in the third game of the three-game set, and pitched well for the most part. Although he lasted just 4.2 innings, he managed to give up just three earned runs on seven base hits.
He threw 62 of the 93 pitches for strikes and seemed to have command of most of his pitches. The Birds’ offense is just scuffling and runs have been hard to come by as of late.
The Birds collected just 12 base hits in three games at Citi Field this week. The Mets’ pitchers, starters and relievers, baffled the Orioles lineup.
The Orioles will conclude their interleague games with their beltway rivals, the 1 st place Washington Nationals as they make their way to Camden Yards on Friday night to start a three-game weekend series. Earlier in May, the Birds took 2-of-3 at Nationals Park and lead the all-time series 21-18.
Good news for the Orioles is that the Nats have been struggling as of late as well after losing five consecutive games. The Yankees swept the Nats over the weekend, and after a day off on Monday, the Rays have won the first two games of the series. They conclude their series tonight at Nationals Park.
Both the Orioles and Nats have 39 wins on the year. However, the Birds have played three more games to this point. There is no doubt this will be an interesting and tough three-game series featuring some of the most exciting young players across the major leagues.
Check out their series this weekend at Oriole Park.
By: Alex Van Rees
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