The Orioles have taken the first two games of this four-game series against the Chicago White Sox, allowing only one run in the process.
Scott Feldman tossed his first career complete-game shutout and only his second complete game, the other coming on May 1, 2013 against the Padres.
“It’s my first shutout, so any time something like that happens, it’s something I’ll always remember,” he said. “Also, I’ll remember all the plays the guys made behind me. I think B-Rob (Brian Roberts) made about five or six great plays tonight. Me and Wiety (Matt Wieters) went over the game plan beforehand and just kind of stuck with that. We were on the same page, so it was nice.”
Feldman was allowed to take the mound in the ninth after throwing 101 pitches. Whether he went the distance depended on how quickly he could dispose of the White Sox.
“I knew I didn’t have a crazy high pitch count, so I knew there was a chance,” he said. “I just went and sat down and tried to hide. Nobody told me I wasn’t going back out there, so I figured I’d go back out.
“They were a very aggressive team. The first time through, they were kind of taking the first pitch a little bit, then after that they got a little more aggressive, so I was able to try not to live in the middle the plate, kind of to hit the corners and hope they’d swing and get some early outs that way.”
Feldman said he “definitely” wanted the shutout, but added, “The big thing this time of the year, it doesn’t matter how many innings you go, it matters who wins the game. All that other stuff is great, but we won the game. We won the first two and hopefully we can keep playing well.”
Wieters was impressed with Feldman’s ability to work both sides of the plate.
“He was able to cut it and sink it on both sides, mix in his breaking ball. He was in command all night,” Wieters said. “You could see it in his eyes. Once he got through the seventh, he wanted to finish that game on his own.
“He’s had a great year. That’s why we wanted him. That’s why we’re happy to have him in the rotation, and when we give him the ball, he’s going to go out there and compete.
“He was locating well early, but Scotty really stayed in the moment. He was able to just keep pitching and going with the scouting report and kind of work with his strengths, and it worked out for him.”
Chris Davis hit his first home run since Aug. 28. He was late to the party. Thirteen of the Orioles’ last 14 runs have come via the homer.
“I think it’s just a combination of guys feeling a little bit of urgency and being aggressive in the right spots,” Davis said. “Nobody’s going up there expecting to hit home runs or trying to hit home runs. I think the biggest thing is trying to get a pitch to drive and letting the bat kind of take over. This is obviously a big point in the year for us. We need to win as many games as possible and the fact that guys are stepping up big in these spots is huge.”
Davis drove a John Danks pitch onto the flag court in right field for his 48th home run of the season.
“It was nice to hit a ball in the air and not see somebody catch it,” he said. “I thought I hit a ball well last night to right field. I really stayed through one for the first time in a few games. I look up, and I see (Avisail) Garcia is playing a step from the warning track. Earlier tonight, I just missed a ball out over the plate. I actually found the barrel for the first time in a few games, which was nice.
“I think you find little positives here and there. I was actually more excited that it stayed fair than it went out. I was going to try and stretch it into my first triple of the season.”
The Orioles improved to 75-65 and will go for the series win on Saturday.
“We have 20-some odd games left,” Davis said. “We know we have to win as many as we can, and I said it last year this time - we can’t count on other teams to lose for us to get in. We’ve got to do everything we can and let the rest fall where it may.”
Is it becoming a grind, more difficult?
“I think so,” Davis said. “Toward the end of the season when you’re in a pennant race, you’re not going to get fastballs right down the middle, and I think that especially at the end of the season, the games are so close, you see one-run games. We’ve been able to score runs via the home run, but a lot of times that’s not the case. You scrap to get guys on, you move them over, and you try to get them in, but I think there are a lot of factors - end of the season, fatigue, the fact that pitchers are being a little bit more careful with our entire lineup, not just me. It’s one of those things that you battle through.”
Danny Valencia homered and had an RBI infield hit in his first two at-bats. He’s collected multiple hits in seven of his last eight games and is batting .536 since Aug. 4, best among Orioles hitters with at least 25 at-bats.
“I’m feeling good,” he said. “Feel real good in the batter’s box. I’m just more happy that we’re winning. Now is the time we need to put together a good streak of wins. We’re doing it. And it’s nice to be a part of it.
“I go out there and do early work and try to stand in on guys’ bullpens, but other than that, I try to do the same stuff everybody else does. I go through the day. Try to stay in the game as much as possible.”
This is an important stretch for Valencia, but he’s not thinking about individual goals.
“This is important for everybody,” he said. “This is the time of year where we’re playing for something important. Everybody is trying to contribute to helping the team win.”