Entering Sunday’s series finale with Detroit, the Orioles bench had struggled throughout the year in contributing late in games, hitting just 1-for-18 in pinch-hit situations.
But against the Tigers, the Orioles got their first pinch hit since May 20 when Danny Valencia knocked in the tying run on a single to right field off Tigers reliever Phil Coke in the seventh inning.
“I knew he had good stuff,” Valencia said. “I actually saw both of his pitches. He threw me a fastball first pitch and a slider second pitch. I was hoping to put it in play and get the run in.”
Before Valencia’s bloop single, Chris Dickerson was the last Oriole to notch a pinch hit. Dickerson singled against the New York Yankees on May 20 in a 6-4 loss.
Valencia pinch hit in Saturday’s 10-3 loss, but he flied out to left field against Tigers reliever Drew Smyly. The 28-year-old has appeared in eight games this season and is batting .250 those appearances.
“It’s definitely tough, but [assistant coach] Einar Diaz keeps us in the batting cage and we are able to stay loose,” Valencia said. “I felt decent going in there. More comfortable facing a lefty than I would be facing a righty in that situation. But fortunately it went my way.”
Valencia’s day was just part of a solid performance by the Orioles bench. After his single, Alexi Casilla pinch-ran and scored the go-ahead run on left fielder Nate McLouth’s single up the middle. In the eighth, Casilla provided the Orioles insurance by doubling over the head of Tigers left fielder Andy Dirks to score first baseman Chris Davis.
For the Orioles to keep up with their late-inning heroics — three of their past four wins have been comebacks — they’ll need the bench to contribute like Valencia and Casilla did Sunday.
“Danny's wasn't pretty, but he's hit a couple balls on the button that they caught, too,” Showalter said. “That was a key hit.”Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun