Stevie “Wonder” Wilkerson Powers O’s Over Rays

After giving up 16 runs the previous day the pitching staff redeemed themselves by holding the Rays to one run. After striking out with runners on first and third and one out in the fifth Stevie Wilkerson redeemed himself by powering a 2-run homerun in the seventh inning to give the Orioles a 2-1 win over the Rays.

The Orioles could not figure out Brendan McKay for the first five innings. They were able to get three hits off him, two of them in the fifth inning to put runners on first and third with no outs. McKay was able to strike out Keon Broxton and Stevie Wilkerson. Wilkerson did foul off four two strike pitches before swinging and missing at a 95 mile per hour fastball. Richie Martin grounded out to second to end the inning. So either the ineptness of the Orioles bats prevented them from driving in the run or the quality of McKay’s pitches were too much for the Orioles to handle. In three starts Brendan lowered his ERA to 1.69. But the three hitters he faced had a combined average of less than .200.

The Orioles started Aaron Brooks, his first in an Oriole uniform. He was claimed off waivers from the Athletics in early July. He did not allow a hit in his 2.2 innings of work. After giving up a big fly to the warning track to Joey Wendle in the third the Orioles pulled him to bring in Jimmy Yacobonis.

The Rays only got three hits all game. The first came from Mike Zunino, who powered a pitch into the left field bleachers, the first hitter Yacobonis faced in the game. Yacobonis also gave up singles to the next two batters. Kevin Kiermaier grounded out to first to end the inning. Yacobonis retired 9 of the next 10 hitters he faced, issuing a leadoff walk to Austin Meadows in the sixth.

Shawn Armstrong came on to pitch the seventh for the Orioles. He walked the only two hitters he faced. Richard Bleier came on to retire the next three hitters to bail out Armstrong. A ground ball by Zunino was bobbled a bit by Hanser Alberto, but he was able to get the throw to first in time to retire Zunino.

The Orioles were able to get two runners on in the sixth on two out back to back singles by Renato Nunez and Pedro Severino off Andrew Kittridge. Collin Poche came on to replace Kittridge and struck out Jonathan Villar to end the threat.

Poche came on to pitch the seventh. Anthony Santander tagged him for a leadoff single. With one out Stevie Wilkerson ran the count to 2-2. He again fouled off a couple two strike pitches. This time he came through with a shot into the centerfield bullpen to give the Orioles a 2-1 lead.

Bleier walked the leadoff hitter in the eighth. This brought in Mychal Givens, who has been having trouble closing games. His last save was June 11. He retired all five hitters he faced, including getting Tommy Pham to ground into a double play to pick up his seventh save.

Game Notes: It was the first game of a day/night double header. The Orioles lost the second game 12-4…Mike Zunino has a very slow bat. We were impressed how far the ball went despite his slow swing, but the ball he hit still carried over the fence. The slow bat could be responsible for him consistently hitting near the Mendoza line each year…Yacobonis has a nice fastball that hits the mid 90s. His big issue has been the homerun ball. In his last two years he has given up 15 homeruns in just 71 innings…Emilio Pagan has had an excellent rookie season. In his one inning of work he struck out two and had a pop out to the catcher, his fastball hitting 96…Pedro Severino was batting cleanup. Perhaps that was because he is hitting .316 against lefthanders. Myworld does not see that lasting…Keon Broxton struck out in all three of his at bats, dropping his average to .176. The Orioles need to find better…Anthony Santander was hitting .354 in Camden Yards…The Rays bullpen ERA of 3.65 is second best in the majors. They have only lost one lead after the sixth inning. Make that two…Bill Bundy went on the injured lost after giving up seven runs in the first inning. The Orioles also traded Andrew Cashner to the Red Sox for two 17 year old international prospects. That gives two other pitchers an opportunity to make the starting rotation.

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