While playing on the West Coast offers its share of obstacles – among them getting used to the three-hour time difference and the initial fatigue of a cross-country flight – sometimes coming out West can be just what a team needs.
Whether it benefits the Orioles is still to be seen, but after winning both games of a brief two-game series in San Diego, they’re off to a promising start.
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The Orioles have played well on the road this season, and sometimes getting away can relieve some pressure.
I’d probably be writing otherwise if the Orioles dropped their first two games of the eight-game West Coast road trip, but their 10-3 win over the Padres on Wednesday – in which the O’s scored the game’s final seven runs to break open a tied game – was a resounding victory.
Chris Davis’ 41sthomer, a three-run shot that gave the Orioles a 6-3 lead in the eighth inning, seemed to be an injection of energy into a Baltimore lineup that has struggled to get key hits with runners in scoring position. The O’s opened the game just 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position and ended it 3-for-7.
Right-hander Miguel Gonzalez’s outing was promising. Despite losing a shutout on one pitch – a 2-0 pitch that Jedd Gyorko hit for a game-tying three-run homer in the sixth – he returned to the form Orioles fans have grown used to seeing.
He attacked hitters, mixed his pitches well and had much better command than his previous two outings. He definitely fell behind early in some counts, but his stuff allowed him to pitch with confidence.
“Not trying to do too much,” Gonzalez said. “My split finger was there, throwing strikes and getting ahead of guys. You saw what happened in the sixth inning when I started getting behind guys. … It’s tough no matter where you go and what team you’re playing against. You fall behind and you’re going to be in trouble.”
After both games in San Diego, center fielder Adam Jones deflected the attention after going 7-for-9 in the series in his hometown. His teammates definitely took notice.
“I got tired of seeing him get all the hits,” Davis joked. “It’s good to see him swing the bat. I think he knows he’s going to get pitches to hit now. I give him a hard time all the time. Adam’s a great player. He’s been consistent his entire time in Baltimore and what you see from him day in and day out is what you want to see from a player.”
Another thing I took from the Orioles’ series in San Diego was the incredible fan support the O’s received there. For both games, the Orioles fans were plentiful and loud. The ‘O’ during the national anthem was loud Tuesday and was even louder for Wednesday’s afternoon game.
A Southern California Baltimore sports fan group called “The West Wing” had a strong contingent. They filled the right-field stands with orange in Anaheim earlier this year. But it seemed like several fans planned out trips to watch the Orioles play in San Diego.
I can’t blame them.
“During the National Anthem, obviously, they got the ‘O’ thing,” left fielder Nate McLouth said. “That surprised me. That was impressive how many O’s fans. I didn’t know 2,500 miles away there were that many O’s fans out here. I don’t blame them for coming out here for this weather.”