The Orioles will go for a two-game series sweep this afternoon and will have a 4-1 road trip if they can get another win at Miami. They took an early 6-1 lead last night and held on to win 7-5.
They improved to 8-9 overall and to 7-3 in road games. They are 19-18 on the road since the start of the 2020 season. They are now 5-1 when they score first and 7-2 when they score four runs or more.
On a night when he didn’t have his best stuff or command, right-hander Matt Harvey managed to not walk anyone and got his first win since July 13, 2019, when he was pitching for the Los Angeles Angels against Seattle.
Harvey gave up eight hits and three runs over five innings and is 1-1 with a 5.12 ERA. He’s been keeping the Orioles in the game and seems to have a good chance to lower that ERA, maybe significantly so, over the long season. But last night he knew in the bullpen he might not have his best stuff.
“From warmups I knew I wasn’t going to be 95 or 96 (mph), like I was last game. You know, had to be a little more crafty,” said Harvey, who threw 82 pitches, 50 for strikes, and averaged 92.9 mph on his fastball.
“I thought it was gutty. That was a gutty performance,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “Five innings, had traffic in four of them. Pitched out of innings well. I didn’t think his fastball command was as good as it had been. But he made pitches when he needed to and left with a 5-3 lead.”
The Orioles bullpen run of 14 straight innings without allowing an earned run - which dated to the opener of last Thursday’s doubleheader - ended when Shawn Armstrong allowed two runs in the Miami sixth. But then Adam Plutko (who allowed two of the three runners he inherited from Armstrong to score), Tanner Scott, Paul Fry and César Valdez combined for four scoreless frames. The bullpen ERA is now 2.05 over the past eight games.
Valdez got an impressive four-out save with three strikeouts. The Marlins swung at 11 changeups he threw and whiffed on seven of them. It was whiff city.
Before last night’s win, Fry told us during a Zoom interview that he was pitching so poorly in spring training that he went to see Hyde to make sure the manager was maintaining confidence in him.
“Yeah, it did test the confidence a little, but also it helped me become better,” Fry said of his rough spring. “I actually went into Hyder’s office in spring. I told him, ‘Hey, I know it looks bad and I’m not shaken by it.’ And I think he received that really well and he told me he’s not worried about it either. So it was just one of those things where the results weren’t there, but my head was good, and you see what’s going on now.
“I just wanted to let him know that I was there still. It was ugly in spring training. It was on a bad path. But I was sticking to my guns and sticking to the process and things are working out.”
Fry now has a 1.23 ERA with eight straight scoreless outings. Click here for more of his interview yesterday, in which he also discussed how we are seeing more life on his fastball.
Still chasing?: The Orioles have been chasing some pitches. We know that. But their strikeouts are coming down a bit. Six strikeouts last night, and they’ve now fanned fewer than 10 times in six of the past eight games. Small progress.
They scored 18 runs in their three wins on this trip. But when I asked Hyde before yesterday’s game if his team has been doing better at chasing less, he was not sure that is true.
“I think we still have a long way to go with that,” Hyde said with a laugh. “I’d like to see us manage the strike zone a lot better offensively. We have a lot of young hitters - lot of guys that haven’t walked, really, in their careers - and we do tend to get overanxious at the plate. Kind of get into pitcher’s counts early, and that’s just something we continue to talk about, continue to work on, and you know these guys will improve as they get older and they pile up more at-bats in their major league career.
“But especially the younger guys that are not off to the start they want to. All of a sudden you start expanding the strike zone even more. Get a little more uncomfortable at the plate. And I feel like we’ve done that quite a bit first couple of weeks.
“I really would like to see us shrink our strike zone, honestly, early in the count. And start getting in better hitter’s counts. Not chase the slider down early or getting ourselves out early. But I watch a lot of other games too, and it’s a league-wide thing right now. And, you know, I think the pitching is really good. The stuff is really good around the league and guys are just going to have to dial in a little bit and try to get in some hitter’s counts.”
* O’s pitching has now allowed just 11 runs the past five games and 25 runs over the last eight.
* O’s hurlers have not allowed a home run in three straight games. They have six games for the season in which they did not allow a homer. They are 5-1 in those games.
* O’s starting pitchers have a 2.87 ERA the last six games.
* Since he went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts on Friday night, Trey Mancini is 5-10 with a double, homer and two RBIs.
Mr. Trey05 pic.twitter.com/DosGeb5qCt-- Baltimore Orioles 😷 (@Orioles) April 20, 2021