Baltimore Sun sports columnist Peter Schmuck with Sunday's Orioles wrap-up.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter contends momentum in baseball is only as good as the next game's starting pitching, and that doesn't necessarily spur winning streaks.
In their 18-7 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Sunday afternoon — the most runs the club has scored in a game since 2006 — the Orioles received a much-needed, quality performance from right-hander Bud Norris while Boston's Wade Miley imploded in a six-run third inning.
Showalter acknowledged he was thinking about the momentum theory while watching his offense put up video-game-like numbers Sunday, hours after David Lough's walk-off home run in the 10th inning on a tense Saturday night during which Camden Yards had to be locked down for more than an inning due to a volatile downtown protest against police.
"Certainly looked like it today," Showalter said about a carry-over effect from Saturday evening. "But I think it had more to do with Bud being good and a good pitcher not having a good day in Miley. That's usually where it's traced back to."
Time will tell whether Lough's homer is the spark the Orioles (9-10) needed to get out of their early malaise — they had lost five straight heading into that game — and properly defend their American League East title. There are different opinions within the clubhouse.
"Momentum stops once you go to sleep," said Delmon Young, who led the Orioles' 20-hit attack with three hits and five RBIs, the fourth time he's had at least that many in a game. "It's a new pitcher, new day. It's not like softball where the same girl is going to keep pitching every day."
But first baseman Steve Pearce, who had started just twice in the past week before having two hits and three RBIs Sunday, said there's no question Saturday's good vibes carried over.
"Definitely, it does. I think we picked up right in the second inning and we started scoring runs," Pearce said. "That was a big blow that Lough delivered [Saturday] night. That was a big, big hit for the team. We needed it, especially coming off five losses. So we are going to look to carry this momentum into the next series."
Regardless the reasoning or incentive, the Orioles went from a serious tailspin to winning the series and knocking the Red Sox (10-9) out of first place in the AL East.
They also salvaged their 19-game, season-opening run against the division, going nearly .500 in that stretch. They'll now face the Chicago White Sox of the AL Central for a three-game series at Camden Yards before playing 10 of the following 12 games against AL East opponents again.
They may not have time to savor Sunday's blowout, but the statistics will stand for a while. The last time the Orioles scored as many as 18 runs in a game was April 19, 2006 against the Cleveland Indians. No Oriole on the current 25-man roster was in the organization back then.
The Orioles had four players with three hits each Sunday: Young, Chris Davis Jimmy Paredes and Rey Navarro, who picked up his first big-league RBI and multihit game. Four Orioles had at least three RBIs — Young, Davis, Pearce and Paredes, who is hitting a stunning .429 in 35 at-bats this season.
The Orioles scored in six consecutive innings — from the second until the seventh — and plated six each in the third and the seventh, setting a season high for runs in an inning.
Third baseman Manny Machado was the only Oriole who didn't have a hit, and he walked twice and scored twice.
"Huge for us," Pearce said of the offensive explosion. "We know we've got a good offense. We know we can score runs and it definitely is [the goal] to keep the ball rolling going into the next series."
The Orioles chased Miley (1-2) in the third, when they batted around for the first of two times in the game. Davis contributed a two-RBI double in the big inning and he hit a home run to center field in the sixth inning.
It was plenty of run support for Norris, who had struggled in his first three starts this season. He took a shutout into the seventh before allowing a three-run homer to Pablo Sandoval on his 107th and final pitch of the outing.
Rookie Jason Garcia gave up a homer to the first batter he faced in the seventh, Hanley Ramirez, who also hit a three-run shot against Garcia in the ninth.
By then, though, the game's outcome was decided. And the announced crowd of 43,802 could exit happily on a calm-after-the-storm afternoon — one in which it was easy to be an Orioles fan in Baltimore.
"There was a great feel in the ballpark, more than just baseball," Showalter said. "To have that many people show up tells you how much they love the Orioles and how much confidence they have in this city. Pretty impressive. Doesn't go unnoticed."