In the midst of a month when he has re-established himself as a productive and healthy major league hitter, outfielder Nolan Reimold’s three-run, game-winning home run through the mist and off the front of the right field flag court showed one of the biggest keys to the Orioles’ success so far.
Reimold, the team’s platoon outfielder against left-handed starters, has keyed five victories over such pitchers this season. Manager Buck Showalter said it’s no coincidence that these Orioles, who have a healthy Reimold to go along with slugging right-handed hitter Mark Trumbo, have fared better against lefties this year.
“He’s been solid,” Showalter said. “He’s been a real contributor. It’s the first time, I don’t want to say completely healthy, but healthy to show what he’s capable of doing and remind everybody. I’m real happy for him because he’s been down a rough road. It’s a real tribute to him to persevere through this, and [I’m] quite proud of the organization for sticking with him. He’s dialed up a lot of things that we’ve needed.”
Carlos Rodon was the sixth left-handed starter the Orioles have faced this year, a list that also includes Boston’s David Price, Texas’ Cole Hamels and Martin Perez, plus Chicago’s John Danks. They’ve won five of those six, including Friday’s 6-3 win over Rodon and the White Sox, and Reimold is a big part of that.
“You can tell, it was about the last week of spring training, a lot of guys are kind of in a good place,” Showalter said. “You could tell they know what they’re expected to bring. And I think Nolan’s got a real peace about [him], he knows if he’s healthy and knows if he’s getting opportunities he’s going to be able to contribute. You can just tell being around him that he kind of likes where he is professionally.”
Reimold's home run, his third of the season, gave him five RBIs — all on home runs — and raised his average to .355 with a 1.136 OPS this season. Friday’s was Reimold’s first home run off a left-hander, but he’s now hitting .412 against lefties this season.
He’s seen most of his starts against left-handers, and typically in those games Trumbo moves to designated hitter in place of Pedro Alvarez, who is essentially the platoon designated hitter against right-handed pitching.
That means the Orioles can stack a lineup with right-handed hitters in a way they haven’t been able to in the past.
As a team, the Orioles entered Friday hitting .286/.346/.557 off left-handed starters, and .252/.308/.461 overall off lefties. They tagged Rodon, a pitcher Showalter said seemed to have no-hit stuff through the first three innings and retired the first 11 batters he faced, for six runs (four earned) on eight hits to bolster that.
They’re still middle-of-the-pack in that category this year — though clearly dragged down by some left-handed relievers they’ve seen — but are far better than last year’s .240/.306/.356 against left-handers that hurt them all season.
That Reimold, a player whose injuries have derailed what many in the Orioles organization thought would be a promising career, is keying this April success for the team makes it better for all involved.
“I really scuffled around for a couple of years after that — it takes a long time,” Reimold said. “It’s good to be back and good to be playing and helping out and helping the team win some games.”