ANAHEIM, Calif. – After Joey Krehbiel pulled off a nice escape act and stranded two runners in scoring position in the eighth inning Saturday night, it would once again be Jorge López time. The right-hander, who always seemed to struggle in the fifth innings of his starts, is now a closer, and he is pitching with the determination and effectiveness of an All-Star right now.
Asked to save the game for the second time in two nights and third in four days, López did it again last night. Throwing 98 mph again, López recorded the final two outs with a strikeout of Shohei Ohtani and an Anthony Rendon grounder as the Orioles held on for a 5-4 win over the Los Angeles Angels. They had a narrow 5-3 win on Friday night and can sweep this series this afternoon.
When the series started, the Angels were 8-5 and in first place in the American League West, had won seven of nine games, had beaten Houston 7-2 and 6-0 in its previous two games and ranked second in the AL in slugging and OPS.
But the Orioles have held their offense in check and López has been bringing the heat in the ninth.
“When the season started I told him, ‘I’m going to pitch you late game against the toughest part of the lineup,’” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Because I believe so much in his stuff. Whether that is going to be the seventh, eighth or ninth, he’s going to face the middle of the order. He’s taken it and run with it. He’s super confident on the mound. It’s never been about stuff with Lopie. His stuff has ticked up out of the 'pen because it’s a shorter sprint. He doesn’t have to go through the lineup a few times. And I think he’s relishing getting the ball in a high-leverage spot. It’s exciting to watch him. He’s come a long way.”