The Orioles beat the Red Sox, 4-2 on Saturday, April 22. (Ulysses Muñoz / Baltimore Sun)
Suddenly, the Orioles seem to have more effective starters than they can use.
Left-hander Jayson Aquino became the sixth different Orioles pitcher to deliver a quality start during the first three weeks of the new season, pitching six strong innings in the Orioles' 4-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox before 35,457 on Saturday night at Camden Yards.
The Orioles' fourth straight win improved their major league-best record to 12-4 and moved them to the threshold of a three-game sweep of the defending division champions.
"I think you saw some of the things we like about him," manager Buck Showalter said. "He doesn't lack for – I don't want to say confidence. He's one of those guys, 'Here's mine and see what you can do with it. I'm not going to pick around.' … There's some personality to his pitching."
Aquino (1-0) was the second call-up starter to take the mound over the past eight days and the second to keep the Orioles from feeling the full force of the injury that has kept ace Chris Tillman out of the rotation from the start of spring training.
Right-hander Alec Asher delivered a similar performance against the Toronto Blue Jays on April 15 at Rogers Centre.
"You kind of shuffle the deck," Showalter said. "If certain things aren't working, you go in some other directions. Dan [Duquette] is good at that."
Aquino's six-inning, six-hit performance gave the Orioles their eighth quality start in the past nine games. The only exception over that span was Kevin Gausman's blowup in Cincinnati on Tuesday night.
If you're keeping stats at home, the starters' ERA over that span is 2.59. If you remove Gausman's game from the equation, the rotation ERA in the other eight games is an amazing 1.36.
The Orioles struggled to solve knuckleballer Steven Wright through the first three innings after hammering four home runs off him in his first start against him at Fenway Park on April 12, but they caught up to him again in the fourth.
They batted around to score four runs, but three of them came on back-to-back homers by Trey Mancini and Jonathan Schoop.
It was the second time this year the Orioles have homered back-to-back. The first time was on April 12, when – you guessed it – Mancini and Schoop hit them off – you guessed it – Steven Wright. Adam Jones drove in the other run with a two-out single.
Mancini's eighth homer in his first 17 games tied a major league record held by Carlos Delgado and Trevor Story. He had a couple of chances to break that record and nearly did with a long fly ball to left field in the eighth inning.
Mychal Givens took over for Aquino and pitched two perfect innings. The Orioles couldn't use Brad Brach for the save situation, so left-hander Donnie Hart and Darren O'Day pitched the ninth inning, with O'Day getting the last out for his first save of the year.
Caleb's big night: No, Caleb Joseph didn't get his first RBI since 2015, but he did get his first two hits of the season. He singled in the third inning and doubled in the fourth – both hits off Wright. He also scored his first run of the year on a fourth-inning RBI single by Jones.
Bradley's big shot: Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., who came off the disabled list for this series, hit his first home run of the season in the third inning, and it was a big one. It landed on Eutaw Street to give the Red Sox (10-8) a short-lived 2-0 lead and was the 89th Eutaw Street homer in the history of Camden Yards. Forty-nine of them have been hit by opposing players. The last homer to land on Eutaw before Bradley was by Orioles designated hitter Pedro Alvarez, who did it on Sept. 2.
No slidegate fallout: The game was played without serious incident after tempers flared Friday night because of Manny Machado's hard slide into Dustin Pedroia. There were two hit batsmen in the late innings – Schoop for the Orioles and Marco Hernandez for the Red Sox -- but the situations didn't point to either of them being intentional.