A baseball doubleheader is a thing of intrigue and beauty. Many fans and players alike have very mixed feelings about them. They turn what many view as an already-too-long event into truly an all day affair. For baseball fans, though, that all-day affair can be quite a blessing. With all the inclement weather across the country, there have been several delays and rainouts. Such a rainout occurred for the Baltimore Orioles on Friday, leading to a double header on Saturday.
The Orioles faced off against the Minnesota Twins in two games Saturday afternoon, dropping both of them. Doubleheaders can be a massive strain on pitching staffs, sometimes depleting them entirely. Fortunately, Major League Baseball recognizes this and allows teams that are playing in a doubleheader to call up an 26th man for the day. For most teams, this player is usually a pitcher. For the Orioles on Saturday, this player was Branden Kline. The Orioles dropped both games but only put eight players on the mound between the two games.
Game One featured featured Dan Straily giving up three runs in five innings. Jimmy Yacabonis came on it relief but didn’t fair much better, giving up three runs and only recording to outs. However, things got better when Miguel Castro came in and pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings. Castro has struggled this season, giving up runs in five of his eight appearances. In two of those five appearances, he gave up multiple runs. But Saturday, he was able to hold the Twins scoreless before handing the ball off to Tanner Scott. Scott finished the game with two scoreless innings, his second consecutive appearance throwing two innings. After a rocky first two years, posting a 10.80 ERA in two games on 2017 and a 5.40 ERA in 53 games in 2018, Scott is posting a 1.59 ERA in five games in 2019 and is showing promise to being a solid long reliever. The 24-year-old has been looking good so far and looks to continue that going forward. In all, the Orioles looked to come back from being down 6-3 but ended up falling 6-5.
In Game Two, the Twins started quickly and never looked back, building a 14-0 lead in the first four innings before the Orioles managed to get on the board. Alex Cobb, who was supposed to be the ace of the staff and earned the opening day start before getting injured, struggled mightily before being pulled in the third inning. After a decent start on April 4th against the Yankees, giving up two runs in 5 2/3 innings, Cobb surrendered nine in 2 2/3 on Saturday. Things didn’t get much better from there. The Orioles replaced Cobb with Mike Wright who subsequently gave up four runs in 3.1 innings.
Kline’s Major League debut probably did not go as well as he hoped. Kline came in to pitch the seventh inning, retiring the side before surrendering two solo home runs in the eighth. Kline finished the inning, but not before letting the Twins extend their lead 15-4.
In the top of the ninth, one of the greatest miracles in baseball happened: A position player pitching. It just so happens that the player was Chris Davis, who by the way, is definitely back. For Davis, this is his second time on the mound after pitching two scoreless innings in 2012 against the Boston Red Sox. In that game, he came on to throw the 16th and 17th innings, surrendering two hits and giving up one walk. However, he struck out two and allowed no runs, earning the win. Saturday night went a little differently. Davis pitched one inning, giving up two hits — one of which was a solo home run to former teammate Jonathan Schoop — and struck out one. And my, oh my, what a strike out it was — an 82-mph fastball that just kept tailing away from Ehire Adrianza.
The winner here is obviously Chris Davis. Coming in and being the best pitcher the Orioles played in this game changes the whole perspective on him. Not only does Davis remind people he has value away from the plate, it also brings up performances of his, like that against the Red Sox seven years ago. He truly is a man of many talents.
Aside from the Orioles in both games, the big loser today was Mike Wright. To put in delicately, Wright has been terrible. He debuted as a starter in 2015, where he appeared in 12 games, made nine starts, and only recorded three wins with a 6.04 ERA. He started 12 games in 2016, still only winning three, with a 5.79 ERA before being moved to the bullpen in 2017. His lowest ERA came in 2017 at 5.55 in 46 relief appearances and two starts. This year, he has an astonishing 9.45 ERA. The numbers speak for themselves. Wright has not had a good career, and this season is shaping up to be his worst yet.
Pitching has been the Orioles’ biggest problem over the last decade or so, and there doesn’t appear to be much to build on. The biggest bright spot on the Orioles pitching staff has been John Means. The 25-year-old had appeared in six games with two starts, throwing 15 2/3 innings with a 1.72 ERA. Manager Brandon Hyde has even left the door open to Means starting more — and perhaps working his way into a six-man rotation — if he keeps pitching like he has been.
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