Matt Harvey got his first win since 2019, the offense came alive, and they all survived the poor defense in the O’s win.
With tonight’s baseball game between the Orioles and Marlins scheduled to begin at 6:40, the foolish among us might have imagined an early wrap up to the game tonight. Maybe the Orioles would leave us time to watch one of our favorite shows before bed! Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. It took the Orioles 3.5 hours, but they locked down the 7-5 win in the end.
Strap in for a long recap, folks. I apologize in advance for having so much to say about a game between the Marlins and Orioles in April 2021.
The Orioles offense was active early, giving their starting pitcher a nice early cushion. They scored three runs in the top of the first inning, but also saw the injury of Anthony Santander.
After Cedric Mullins flew out to start the game, Santander lined a single to centerfield. Santander has been struggling offensively but he smoked that ball at 105.8 mph. Unfortunately he twisted his ankle getting back to first base on a pick off throw. It looked dire as he couldn’t even put weight on his foot as he was helped off the field. It was announced a bit later by the Orioles as an ankle sprain. Get better soon!
The newly activated Austin Hays took Santander’s place on the bases and then in right field, where he would soon make an impact. But first the Orioles had to score some runs! A DJ Stewart walk and a Trey Mancini bloop single loaded the bases. That set up an RBI groundout from Freddy Galvis to give the Orioles the lead. The next batter, Rio Ruiz, did him one better. He doubled to right field to easily score both Stewart and Mancini.
I love a 3-0 lead in the first inning! The Orioles made some more trouble in the inning, re-loading the bases. But unfortunately they’re playing by National League rules this series, which means that the pitcher had to come to bat. Matt Harvey has plenty of NL experience, but that doesn’t mean he can hit. He stinks at the plate the way nearly all pitchers do. He grounded out to the pitcher to end the inning.
Then Harvey, who had just batted, took the mound. Totally weird. With one out, Miguel Rojas hit a ball down the right field line for a triple. It might have been a double if Hays hadn’t stumbled and fallen down while fielding it up against the wall, but even so his cannon of an arm almost got the runner at third. He’d make up for this play a little bit later.
After Harvey struck Jesús Aguilar on a beautiful slider, Adam Duvall singled to knock in the run for the Marlins. The fact that they ended up only getting one run in the inning was due to some excellent defense by Hays. Brian Anderson launched a ball to right field that looked like at least a double off the bat. But Hays made an incredible catch to save the inning. Take a look:
— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) April 20, 2021
Welcome back, indeed.
After the eventful first inning, Harvey calmed things down on the mound for the next few innings. This was in spite of his defense. In the third inning, with a runner on first and one out, Franco couldn’t handle a ground ball and everyone was safe. Harvey got out of it by striking out the next two batters.
In the fourth inning, Rio Ruiz couldn’t field a ground ball at second base to let the leadoff runner on. But Harvey got a line out for a double play and a strikeout for the third out.
In the meantime, the Orioles offense continued on. Trey Mancini launched his fourth home run of the year in the third inning, and it might be possible that things are looking up for Trey. I don’t want to jump the gun! But maybe it is. The home run was his second time on base in this game and he’d go on to also walk.
Freddy Galvis also went boom in that third inning, and in the fourth Stewart doubled to knock in Hays to make the score 6-1 in favor of the Orioles. Things felt well in hand, but these are the Orioles. So it turns out they were not.
As Matt Harvey took the mound in the bottom of the fifth inning with a lead, all the broadcasters could talk about was him getting his first win of the year. Never mind that there were still five innings to go! Their tone made it clear they were assuming if Harvey could get through the fifth he’d pick up his first major league win since July 13, 2019.
The first two batters Harvey faced singled to put runners on first and second. Aguilar hit a long fly ball to center that Mullins tracked down easily, but he then threw to third base instead of second, which allowed both runners to tag and move up. It put another runner in scoring position, took away the possibility of the double play, and was just not a great decision.
The next batter hit a ground ball to third base. Franco got the out at first as the runner on third came in to score. The ball was most likely hit too softly to be a double play ball if there had still been a runner on first. But the defense wasn’t finished letting down Matt Harvey. The next batter, Brian Anderson, hit a ground ball to shortstop that got under Galvis’s glove. It was ruled a single but the expected batting average on the play was just .210. He could have made it. Instead, the third run of the night came in to score.
Harvey finally got the last out and completed his five innings with three runs allowed. He was obviously far from perfect, but his defense let him down a number of times over those five innings. Overall he really didn’t look bad until those hits in his final frame.
The O’s lead was down to just three runs and it was about to be even less. While the offense went to sleep after the fourth inning, the pitching did its best to blow the game. Shawn Armstrong started the sixth inning and loaded the bases on a single and two walks and was pulled without allowing an out. Armstrong clearly felt he was being squeezed and was angrily sputtering to himself as he left the mound.
He did get a bad call on ball four of the second walk. It definitely should have been strike three. But the rest were legit, at least according to the pitch charts on Gameday. Adam Plutko relieved him but wasn’t able to strand the runners. A run came in on a single and another on a sac fly to cut the Orioles’ lead to just one run.
Finally in the eighth inning, the O’s offense was able to add on a run. Ruiz hit his second double of the day and moved up when the Marlins’ catcher tried to throw behind him at second but instead threw the ball into the outfield. Galvis the promptly singled him in.
The 7-5 score held and Matt Harvey did indeed get his first win since 2019. After Plutko, Tanner Scott, Paul Fry, and César Valdez closed things out. The final batter of the night for the Marlins was a pinch hitting pitcher, because the National League is stupid.
The Marlins and Orioles finish off their short series tomorrow at 1 p.m. with Bruce Zimmermann on the mound for the Birds. Sleep fast!