When Steve Pearce came up to bat with a man on second, no outs and the Orioles down 5-4 in the seventh inning Thursday, he didn’t figure he’d hit a home run. He didn’t think he’d even get that chance.
“I thought I was going to be bunting in that situation to get the runner over to third. I was surprised that Buck let me swing away right there. Initially I was just trying to move the runner, get him over. Worked the count real well and got a pitch to hammer and I got it,” Pearce said of his two-run homer off Jake McGee that gave the Orioles a 6-5 lead. It was his first homer since last Sept. 7.
With one swing, Pearce snapped his 0-for-15 to start the year and tripled the RBI output of O’s designated hitters this year, from one to three.
“I’ve been having good at-bats, I just wasn’t able to find a hole,” Pearce said. “Fortunately I could get something going for myself and the team.
“It’s definitely a relief to get a hit and get that going. Big hit for the team and got the monkey off my back. Got a hit in the ninth there too, so it is a big sigh of relief. I’ve been facing some good pitchers. It can be more magnified if you start off slow. But it’s a grind and I knew things had to change, so show up every day ready to work and it paid off today.”
Staying after it paid off for Miguel Gonzalez tonight too. He gave up four runs in the first three innings, before pitching into the sixth for the Orioles.
“I came in from the bullpen and felt good,” Gonzalez said. “But this is not an easy team and they were battling the whole game. I tried to keep the team in the game. I settled down a little bit. My offspeed was good, but my fastball wasn’t there, the fastball outside against lefties was tough for me. But I’ll come back the next time and get ‘em.
“Pearce came to me before the game and told me, ‘I’m going to get you a couple hits.’ Happy he got his first hit and it was a home run. Wieters at the end, that was fun to watch.”
Manny Machado went 2-for-5 tonight and said he was not surprised he was asked to bunt, which he did for a hit, in the last of the tenth. Two batters later he was trotting home ahead of Wieters on the walk-off slam.
“It was huge. We needed this to get this club rolling. We’ve been battling pretty good and we needed this big win,” Machado said.