Matt Wieters was the man that produced the one swing that everyone will remember from today’s 2-1 Orioles win, but after the game he said it was a lot of quality pitches that allowed the Orioles to give up just five runs this weekend and take the series from the Nationals.
“That is the reason we were able to win two games,” Wieters said. ” If our pitching wasn’t as good as it was this weekend, both our starters and bullpen, we wouldn’t have had a chance in those games.
“That falls on the pitching staff. They did a great job of keeping us close so one swing could change the game. The offense wasn’t where we wanted it to be this series, but the pitching staff kept us in the games.”
After seven innings of frustration at the plate, the Orioles trailed 1-0 in the eighth when Adam Jones led off with a single off lefty Sean Burnett, who began today with the best ERA among all NL relievers at 1.04.
Wieters then smoked a two-run homer to left center on a 0-1 pitch to give the Orioles their only extra-base hit of the day and the lead at 2-1.
“It was a fastball,” Wieters said. “He threw one the first pitch, and I wasn’t quite ready for it, so I just wanted to make sure I got ready for the second one and was able to put a good swing on it.
“It’s a good feeling, maybe some relief because everyone was trying to grind to find a way to score some runs for Jake (Arrieta) and our bullpen. To take the lead and turn it over to J.J. (Jim Johnson), we felt pretty confident.”
Wieters began today hitting .400 with an OPS of 1.054 against lefty pitchers, and just .199 and .667 against right-handers. He got to face the southpaw Burnett, the Nats’ set-up man.
Wieters has no explanation why he is having such success against lefties this year.
“I have no idea,” he said. “If I knew that I could be a hitting coach or something. You will always have a strong side and weak side, and that is the great thing about switch-hitting, and the tough thing about it. You are always working on one side to get it equal or better to the other side. Right now, trying to get the left side to feel as good as the right.”
Wieters was also involved in the game-ending double play, when he threw out Ian Desmond who was trying to steal, to produce a strikeout and throw-out.
“J.J. gave me a great time time to the plate, and Desmond is a guy who you’re always ready,” Wieters said. “He’s aggressive and likes to run. I was ready for him to go and had a pretty good pitch to throw on.”
Meanwhile, Arrieta had a third straight solid outing and gave up just one run and five hits over six innings, throwing 103 pitches. He has an ERA of 2.70 over his last three starts.
“More than anything, I’m happy with the strides I’ve made over the past few weeks,” Arrieta said. “You know I really think I’ve progressed, as a person and a player, more in the past month than I have in the past year. There are so many things I’m starting to get better at. It’s a very rewarding process and that is what I focus on the most, the process. It’s finally starting to pay off at a high level.”
So the Orioles were able to score just five runs this weekend, and go 1-for-16 with runners in scoring position, yet still take the series from the NL East leaders.
A reporter asked Wieters if that gave the Orioles mid-Atlantic bragging rights.
“It’s nice to win the series, but it’s not something we’ll brag about. We’ll keep working toward getting ready for Anaheim,” he said.