Just five games into his Orioles career, newly acquired shortstop Tim Beckham stepped into franchise history Saturday night at Camden Yards.
Beckham's eighth-inning homer not only helped cap the Orioles' 5-2 comeback win over the Detroit Tigers, but it was the 10,000th home run in team history. The Orioles became the fourth major league club to reach that mark since 1954, the first year of the team's existence, joining the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers.
His solo shot, which came off Tigers reliever Edward Mujica, was one of three homers on the night for the Orioles (54-56) as they scored five unanswered runs to win for the sixth time in eight games.
After Beckham rounded the bases, he was coaxed out for a curtain call from the Camden Yards crowd of 33,911. Beckham, who was acquired at Monday's nonwaiver trade deadline in a deal with the division-rival Tampa Bay Rays, went to the dugout's top step and raised his arms to acknowledge the fans.
"It was a great feeling, man," Beckham said. "My first one in my career for sure. Tampa doesn't pack out the stadium like that, but it's a great feeling man, to play in Baltimore, in front of the Orioles fans. The energy they bring to the stadium every night is pretty fun."
When Beckham lifted Mujica's first-pitch splitter into the left-field stands — it went an estimated 422 feet at an exit velocity of 106.3 mph — Oriole Park erupted with fans knowing the relevance of the homer.
"I think we have the smartest fans in baseball," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "They understand what's going on. It was nice. It's another one of those things, you're in the dugout and you've got to step back and realize you're lucky to watch those types of things. That's a lot of home runs."
The arrival of Beckham, a former No. 1 overall pick who struggled to meet lofty expectations with the Rays, has provided the Orioles with a spark. Beckham is now 13-for-20 with multiple hits in all five games with the Orioles. He has homered in three straight games for the first time in his major league career.
"He's doing what he's been doing for the entire season in Tampa," said Orioles center fielder Adam Jones, whose fifth-inning solo homer tied the game at 2. "But now we've got this his numbers. Pretty much, he's just doing what he's been doing all season. We're just fortunate to have him here. ... It's a familiar face, but a fresh face. He offers a lot of intangibles that we don't use a lot here — his speed game is tremendous. He's not afraid to take that extra base and not afraid to risk anything. That's what we need. I'm glad that he's here. He brings a lot of energy the five days he's been here. Let's continue it."
Even though he's new to the organization, the moment wasn't lost on Beckham.
"To be a part of the Orioles organization is a blessing and like you said, 10,000 home runs, that's crazy to think about, man," Beckham said. "That's stuff you don't think about during the game. You're just playing the game and competing and good things happen."
Catcher Welington Castillo — whose playing time has dropped as Showalter has begun to play Caleb Joseph evenly — hit a solo homer in the seventh off Detroit reliever Joe Jimenez that gave the Orioles a 3-2 lead. Over his past nine games, Castillo is hitting .412.
Jones also hit a solo homer, and Jonathan Schoop had his 80th RBI of the season with a double in the third. Joey Rickard doubled home Castillo in the eighth three batters after Beckham's homer for an insurance run.
After falling behind to the Tigers in the first inning for the third straight night, left-hander Wade Miley limited the damage through five innings, the bullpen held Detroit scoreless and the Orioles scored five unanswered runs.
They managed just four hits and two runs over five innings against Tigers starter Drew VerHagen, who was making his second career start filling in for injured reigning American League Rookie of the Year Michael Fulmer.
Three Orioles relievers combined for four scoreless innings, including outings of more than an inning from Brad Brach (1 2/3 innings) and closer Zach Britton (1 1/3 innings).
Leading 3-2, Britton entered the game for Brach with two outs in the eighth after Miguel Cabrera landed on second with a single and fielding error by left fielder Trey Mancini. Britton then fielded a comebacker off the bat of Mikie Mahtook to strand the tying run on second base.
Britton retired the Tigers in order in the ninth for his ninth save of the season and his first of more than an inning since Sept. 13.
Despite the way Miley's night began Saturday, the Orioles found themselves in another battle heading into the late innings.
Just three batters into the game, Miley already trailed by two runs, allowing a two-run homer to sizzling slugger Justin Upton as part of a 30-pitch first inning. But Miley settled in after that, holding the Tigers without a run after the first. He pitched five innings, ending his night having retired seven straight.
The Orioles haven't had many answers for Upton, who has homered in each of the first three games of this four-game series. He hit a game-winning grand slam off Mychal Givens in Detroit's 5-2 win Friday and homered in the first inning off right-hander Chris Tillman in Friday's 7-5 Orioles loss.
But after allowing Upton's homer Saturday — the Tigers' fourth first-inning home run this series — Miley held the Tiger scoreless for the next four innings.
Miley threw just eight first-pitch strikes to the 21 batters he faced, but allowed just three base runners over his last four innings.
Miley escaped a two-on, two-out jam in the third by getting Victor Martinez to bounce into a force out.
Burned on the Upton homer by an 0-2 slider that the outfielder reached down to get, Miley went to his off-speed pitches often, particularly his curveball and slider. He threw eight first-pitch curveballs.
He through 53 fastballs, and 26 each of his curveball and slider, eliciting three swings and misses on each pitch and a combined seven called strikes.
"I just was mixing speeds, curveball, fastball," Miley said. "Just kind of back and forth, moving it in and out. I started elevating some fastballs later and getting some swings. When you throw more strikes, I think guys will get more aggressive. They'll swing at pitches out of the zone more. In the first inning, I wasn't throwing a lot of strikes. When I threw a strike, they hammered it. It was good."
Baltimore Orioles Insider
Jones hits 20th homer
Jones tied the game in the fifth inning with a solo homer off VerHagen, his 20th of the season.
With one out in the inning, Jones lifted a 1-0 curveball from VerHagen an estimated 391 feet into the left-field seats.
The blast gave Jones 20 or more homers for the seventh straight season, marking the third-longest streak of 20-homer seasons in club history. That trailsonly Cal Ripken Jr. (10 straight seasons) and Eddie Murray (nine).
"Just being healthy, knock on wood," Jones said about joining elite company. "I think just being available. If you're not playing, you can't do much. I think that me just being in the lineup on a consistent basis, I think that if I'm playing, there's a possibility of doing something. Playing a lot of games each year, I just think that when I'm there, there's an opportunity to do something. My teammates push me every day to be better, to be a better player. It's not just me. My teammates push me, and my health — I've been fortunate enough to be healthy."