Back-to-back blankings of the Braves

I left Ocean Pines at 1:30 p.m. with the idea of catching the end of today’s game on MASN2 after I arrived home.

I barely made it across the Bay Bridge when Jim Johnson recorded his 20th save to preserve the Orioles’ 2-0 victory over the Braves.

The starting pitchers were getting quick outs and the traffic was moving at a snail’s pace.

Did anyone guess back in March that Jason Hammel and Wei-Yin Chen would each win seven of their first nine decisions? What about the back-to-back shutouts, a first by the Orioles since Kevin Millwood and Jeremy Guthrie did it on Aug. 28-29, 2010?

Hammel was the only one of the group who didn’t need any assistance from the bullpen, but they all count.

The Braves hadn’t been shut out in consecutive games since June 1999.

Adam Jones sent the following tweet this afternoon: “Great series win. My boy Chen was Chensational #stayhungry”

Interesting decision by manager Buck Showalter to call upon Darren O’Day to start the eighth inning with the Orioles ahead 2-0. O’Day gave up a single and was replaced by Troy Patton, who retired the next two batters.

That’s when Showalter brought in Pedro Strop, who usually begins the eighth in his set-up role. Strop got the final out and Johnson did his usual job, allowing the Orioles to take two of three from the Braves and improve to 9-3 in interleague games after going 7-11 last season.

I’m reminded of the first interleague series between these teams back on June 13-15, 1997 at Turner Field.

The Orioles were 42-19, but had lost two straight to the Red Sox. The Braves were 42-22.

Jimmy Key beat Greg Maddux in the opener, and the Orioles went on to sweep the Braves by scores of 4-3, 6-4 and 5-3.

I’m told years later that the Orioles truly believed they were the real deal after marching into Atlanta and taking those three games. It got everyone’s attention.

They went wire-to-wire in 1997, lost the American League Championship Series to the Indians, and haven’t put together another winning season.

Maybe this is the year.

Down on the farm, Chris Tillman held Toledo to one run in six innings today. He’s allowed two earned runs or fewer in four of his last five starts.

The win moved Tillman into a tie for first among Orioles minor leaguers with six victories this season, joining Single-A Delmarva’s Miguel Chalas and Double-A Bowie’s Zach Clark. Tillman has posted a 3.13 ERA with 46 hits allowed, 17 walks and 61 strikeouts over his last 10 starts.

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