The Baltimore Orioles (15-13) trail the New York Yankees (16-13) by just a half-game for first place in the American League East after winning three of their four games this week. Baltimore swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in a doubleheader to open the week, and then split the first two games of its series against the Minnesota Twins.

May 1: Orioles Dominate Pirates in Makeup Games
Heavy rains and local flooding postponed the Orioles’ home games on April 29 and 30, leading to a doubleheader against the Pirates on May 1. Baltimore won the Game One afternoon opener, 5-1, and then won the Game Two evening match, 6-5.

Starting pitcher Bud Norris had a strong performance in Game One, allowing just one earned run in five innings. Baltimore went through four relief pitchers before closer Tommy Hunter sealed the win with his seventh save of the season. First baseman Steve Pearce had three hits, two RBI and right fielder Nick Markakis had a homerun in the seventh inning.

Markakis had another homerun in the Game Two nightcap, and catcher Matt Wieters also hit a homerun as the Orioles held on to claim a close 6-5 win. Starter pitcher Chris Tillman had eight strikeouts, but he also gave up three earned runs in just four innings. Baltimore again leaned on its bullpen, calling on five relief pitchers before Hunter came in to close out the game once more.

May 2-3: Orioles Win One, Lose One against Twins

The O’s shut out the Twins, 3-0 in Game One of a three game series in Minnesota on May 2 thanks to an outstanding outing by starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez. Jimenez struck out 10 batters and allowed just three hits and no runs in seven innings. With such a strong pitching performance, the Orioles only needed three runs to win the game. Left fielder Nelson Cruz went the yard with a homerun in the sixth inning; he finished with two hits and two RBI.

Unfortunately in Game Two of the series, Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen wasn’t nearly as successful, suffering a 6-1 defeat. Chen allowed three runs in five innings and Baltimore trailed for most of the game. Shortstop J.J. Hardy produced the Orioles’ only run with an RBI in the second inning.

Orioles Player of the Week: Ubaldo Jimenez
Jimenez was picked up in free agency this offseason to help shore up Baltimore’s pitching rotation, and that’s exactly what he did on May 2 against the Pirates. Jimenez’s 10 strikeouts represented one of the better pitching performances of any pitcher for the Orioles this season.

Next up: Following the completion of the Minnesota series on May 4, Baltimore will travel to face the Tampa Rays in a three-game series from May 6-8. Thereafter, the Orioles return home May 9-11 for a three-game series against the Houston Astros.


Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor