Right-hander Tyler Wilson’s spot start on Saturday night was by no means an audition — the Orioles might need him to join their struggling rotation with the loss of right-hander Yovani Gallardo to a shoulder injury — but Wilson still made a strong case to remain in the rotation in his first starting opportunity of the season.
Wilson allowed three runs on six hits over five innings in the Orioles’ 8-3 win over the defending World Series champion Kansas City Royals.
“That’s been Tyler,” said manager Buck Showalter, who indicated that Wilson will get another start. “Here’s my bullets and I’m gonna let it rip and see what happens. That’s what you like about him. That’s why winning has followed him around. He likes to compete. … I’m happy for him. There seem to be good defensive plays made behind guys like him. Things don’t seem to bother him mentally. He’s very mentally strong and that bodes well up here.”
The 26-year-old Wilson, who opened the season in the bullpen, was making his first start of this season and the sixth of his major league career. He put on a clinic in pitch efficiency, something the Orioles starters have struggled with in the early going. Wilson had thrown no more than 44 pitches in any of his three previous outings — he allowed just one earned run over eight relief innings — so he was pulled after 70 pitches.
Two of the three runs off Wilson came on Salvador Perez’s two-run homer with two outs in the second inning.
“The next pitch was a strike,” Showalter said about Wilson recovering following the Perez homer. “How many times do you see the next four pitches be SCUDs and then somebody walks. Those are little things when you’re evaluating people you look for. And that plays into it when you’re evaluating somebody. It’s more than just lighting up a gun. He was carrying a good fastball tonight. A couple at 94 [mph], but in a time of need with [Yovani] Gallardo out, he stepped up tonight.”
Otherwise, Wilson retired 10 of the first 12 Kansas City batters he faced.
"It was awesome,” Orioles DH Mark Trumbo said of Wilson. “Super gutsy. He does that every time, though. You know he is not going to walk guys and is going to go right at them. His mentality is everything you would want in any type of pitcher, but especially tonight going out there and being a bulldog and eating some innings."
The Orioles (11-5) scored four runs in the fourth inning — all the runs scoring with two outs — to take a 7-2 lead.
Chris Davis hit his sixth homer of the season, tying him for the club lead, on the first pitch he saw from Royals starter Kris Medlen to lead off the second inning, crushing a fastball 402 feet over the left field fence.
Third baseman Manny Machado, who had already extended his career-high hit streak to 16 games with a first-inning single, laced a 2-0 pitch over left fielder Alex Gordon’s head, scoring Joey Rickard from first base.
Following Adam Jones’ second walk of the game — Jones had a career-high three walks on the night — the Orioles used a pair of seeing-eye singles from two of their power bats to plate three more runs in the inning. Davis, who went 4-for-5, looped a single to right to score Machado and Trumbo’s opposite-field two-run single landed just inside the foul line in shallow right field.
Davis and Trumbo combined to go 7-for-10 and drive in six of the Orioles’ eight runs.
The Royals (11-6) scored a run off Wilson on Alcides Escobar’s opposite-field RBI single with one out in the fifth, but Wilson induced an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play from Mike Moustakas to end the threat.
“Kind of a turning point in the game, decision time in the fifth inning,” Wilson said. “They had been really aggressive early in at-bats. It’s kind of their team’s MO. … Once again, the defense turns a double play in key moment.”
Davis’ solo blast was the Orioles’ only homer of the night, and just their second over the past four games. But eight of the nine Orioles starters reached base on the night, including five players with multiple hits. The Orioles were also 5-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
"I think the pressure is pretty low with the amount of talent around here,” Trumbo said. “Just focus on what you have to do and everyone will do part. Just be yourself."
Givens bears down in sixth
Right-handed reliever Mychal Givens entered the sixth inning with the bases loaded and the tying run coming to the plate with one out in a 7-3 game, and emerged from the inning without allowing a run.
Givens struck out Perez and Omar Infante — both of them swinging on sweeping sliders — to escape the jam.
He retired all four batters he faced.
After allowing three runs in his first two outings, Givens has recorded seven straight scoreless outings.
Givens inherited the bases-loaded jam after left-hander Brian Matusz, making his first appearance since returning from the DL, allowed two of the three hitters he faced reach base.
Kim shines in rare start
Seldom-used outfielder Hyun Soo Kim recorded two hits while making his first start in 10 days.
Kim recorded his first major-league RBI in his first at-bat in the second inning, looping a two-out single on the first pitch to score J.J. Hardy from third.
He was also credited with an infield single on a sharply hit ball that diving Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer couldn't corral.
Kim, who ended the night 2-for-4, now has multiple hits in two of his first three big league starts. He was 2-for-3 with a run scored in his major league debut on April 10 against Tampa Bay.
Schoop breaks out
Second baseman Jonathan Schoop, who entered Saturday's game hitless in his last 17 at-bats, singled in his first two at-bats on Saturday.
Schoop, who saw his batting average drop 70 points during his hitting drought, recorded his second multi-hit game of the season.