April 29, 2018 - The Orioles beat the Tigers, 5-3. (Denise Sanders, Baltimore Sun video)

There's subversion for the sake of shaking things up, which these Orioles seem to badly require at times, and then there's subversion out of necessity.

With a 5-3 win over the Detroit Tigers before an announced 28,089 at Camden Yards on Sunday, the Orioles used the latter to secure their eighth win of the season and first home series victory.


Leadoff man Trey Mancini, their first baseman who has assumed a more contact-oriented approach while hitting in the top spot, hit a leadoff home run for the first time in his career.

Pedro Álvarez, a nominal infielder who is far down their depth chart, was forced into the lineup at third base right before first pitch and hit two home runs. Brad Brach, who entered the season as the presumptive closer, was the first man out of the bullpen in the sixth inning as the long relief man, followed by Mychal Givens and Darren O'Day.

Orioles first baseman Chris Davis got the weekend off to reset and make adjustments with Buck Showalter and Scott Coolbaugh as his slow start to the season has brought on more concern than ever about his performance at the plate.

In between, the Orioles got another good start from the increasingly reliable Kevin Gausman. They head on a six-game, West Coast road trip at 8-20.

"We won a series," manager Buck Showalter said.

Said Álvarez: "Every win is important. Obviously, depending on the environment and the time of year, some wins have a little more emotional weight on them, but this is a big win. It's a big series win. Go to the West Coast and carry that momentum. It's good to get the ball rolling a little bit, and continue to keep playing good baseball."

While Mancini has been hitting leadoff for most of the season, it has come at the expense of his power numbers. The home run, his third in 26 games, came on the third pitch he saw to set the tone for what would be an afternoon of aberrations.

Álvarez, who homered twice Friday but was set for a second straight day on the bench against a left-handed pitcher, was told around 10 minutes before first pitch to grab his glove and play third base in place of Danny Valencia, whose hamstring tightened while warming up in the outfield. Álvarez homered twice, once to give the Orioles a 3-0 lead in the second and again in the eighth inning to restore a two-run lead.

The second home run came as the Orioles were ostensibly working backwards in their bullpen. Showalter brought in the seldom-used Brach for the last out of the sixth inning and had designs for him to pitch the seventh and the eighth innings had he not run into trouble, which he did. Givens and O'Day pitched scoreless innings, with Richard Bleier warming behind them in case any Tigers reached base. On Opening Day, the pecking order would have been reversed. But Showalter flipped it because of availability, and undoubtedly performance, and it worked.

"We talked about it in the spring, that there were going to be some times where guys were going to move around, in what may be conventional in the past with Zach [Britton]," Showalter said.

Gausman continued the progress he has made after a clunker of a season debut four weeks ago at Camden Yards, pitching an out shy of his fourth straight quality start but hitting the showers having allowed a run on five hits in 5 2/3 innings.

Though he wasn't exactly pitch-efficient in terms of the lengths of his innings, there was little stress involved in Gausman's day. He was in trouble a bit in the sixth when, with a runner on first and one out, José Iglesias doubled into the right-field corner. Victor Reyes, a Rule 5 outfielder for Detroit who seldom plays, was hit with a late stop sign rounding third base and was thrown out on his way back to the bag. Gausman got out of the inning with a grounder on the next batter.

His only blemish was leadoff home run in the fifth inning to Tigers backup catcher John Hicks, who hit a 91 mph fastball into the visiting bullpen, and he might have finished six innings if not for an infield single into the shortstop hole that loaded the bases with two outs in that inning.

He handed the ball to Brach, who struck out Hicks to leave three Tigers aboard.

"Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get through six," Gausman said. "They did a good job of fouling off some good pitches and getting into some deep counts, and I also kind of got into a lot of 3-2 counts. So, I wish I could have been a lot more effective early on. I gave away kind of some free bases, especially with two outs, but I thought it was good overall."


"Gaus was good again," Showalter said.

Craig Gentry hit an RBI single for an insurance run to make it 4-1 in the home half of that inning, but in the seventh, Brach allowed RBI doubles to Jeimer Candelario and Niko Goodrum to cut the Orioles' lead to 4-3.

Álvarez's second home run, which made it 5-3, proved unnecessary when O'Day struck out two in a scoreless ninth for his second save of the season.

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