Saturday, June 29, 2019

Orioles Victory Card Number 23: A Blowout Sparked by the Future

Baltimore Orioles Victory 23: 13-0 over the Cleveland Indians

1985 Donruss Larry Sheets

Following an off day that followed yet another multi-game losing streak (this time three in a row) the Baltimore Orioles showed no mercy to a pitcher recently returned from the Injured List. Mike Clevinger, activated prior to the start, didn't make it out of the second inning as the Orioles racked up five hits and seven runs against the hard-throwing righthander.

In the win, which was also their second shutout of the season, the club established season highs for runs scored and margin of victory. The bulk of the offense came from catcher Chance Cisco. The young backstop went 3-5 with a home run and 5 RBI. He also was robbed of a home run in the fourth inning by a nice leaping catch by centerfielder Oscar Mercado.

Cisco, who is just 24-years-old, seems to have finally adjusted to major league pitching after struggling earlier in his career. In 13 games this year he is slashing .289/.400/.658 with 3 home runs and 12 RBIs.  That's a dramatic increase over the .181/.288/.269 he had in 160 at-bats last season. While 38 at-bats is still well within the small sample size group for this season, he is showing much better pitch recognition and is driving the ball more so far. Hopefully, he can keep it up.

Right behind Cisco in the line-up was Anthony Santander.  The outfielder went 3-4 and drove in four runs of his own, including a key home run in the second that pretty much put the game out of reach even with the Orioles bullpen.

Much like Cisco, Santander is excelling in his extended look this season and drastically improving his year-over-year numbers. Also, 24-years-old the former Rule 5 pick seems to be fully recovered from injuries that plagued him at the beginning of his career in Baltimore. He is forcing himself into the conversation about the future of the team.

That's what was nice about the win. It wasn't players who won't be around in three months leading the charge. Instead it was a couple of guys who might survive the purge and be part of the next run of Orioles competitiveness. Included in that group was the starting pitcher, John Means. The rookie southpaw did what he's done all season long - limit damage and pitch five innings. This time he went five innings on 84 pitches, gave up one hit, walked one and struck out five.

He set down eleven Indians in a row following an error by Jonathan Villar in the second inning. Kind of a tough error as Bobby Bradley ripped a line drive up the middle that Villar lept up in the air and almost snagged. I've seen more routine plays booted that have been scored as hits.

It may seem strange that the Orioles chose to remove Means after only 84 pitches in a game where he was dominating, but the young hurler had missed a start with a shoulder strain so there was no need to risk aggravating it in a blowout win. The beleaguered bullpen came in and did it's job as Brandon Kline, Paul Fry, and Miguel Castro all handed in scoreless innings. 

It was just one win, but it was a nice one and hopefully one the Orioles can build on.

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