BALTIMORE –- It was around this time last season the Orioles started consistently winning. Their starters pitched deep into the game, the bullpen was effective, their defense was exemplary, and they got clutch hitting.
A year later, it seems to be happening again.
Jimmy Paredes, who wasn’t even with the Orioles a year ago, got three hits and scored the eventual winning run in the eighth in a 4-3 win over the Cleveland Indians before 31,102 at Oriole Park on Friday night.
Paredes helped keep the team afloat in the season’s early weeks,
Through his first 33 games, Paredes, who was nearly taken off the Orioles’ 40-man roster over the winter, was batting .353.
Then, he slumped, and his average fell below .300.
Now, he’s hot again. With his three hits, he’s 11-for-21 and his average is back up to .319.
“I’ve got a better swing now. I’m not swinging at bad pitches. Sometimes I chase bad pitches, but I’ve got to keep doing what I’m doing now. I feel a lot better now. I feel like when I was starting [the season],” Paredes said.
Manager Buck Showalter was trying to ride the Paredes wave as long as he could, yielded earlier this month when he cooled off and reinforcements arrived.
“He's not going to let this opportunity get away from him. His intensity level every at-bat is the same. He goes through periods when he gets selective. He's a hard guy to pitch to when you think about it. You don't sit there in one spot with one speed on him. People know about him and he's still doing it. That's what's impressive,” Showalter said.
With the scored tied at 3, Paredes hit the first pitch off Marc Rzepczynski (1-3) for a double, and Davis hit his second for a single to right, and a 4-3 lead.
The Orioles (39-34), who have won 16 of 21 and are just one game out of the AL East lead, took a 3-2 lead into the eighth.
Darren O’Day (5-0) allowed a one-out home run to Carlos Santana, his ninth to tie the score.
Wei-Yin Chen, who was banished abruptly and temporarily to Frederick after pitching eight scoreless innings against New York on June 15, returned and allowed two home runs in his six innings. Brandon Moss hit a high shot to right field in the second, his 12th, and Ryan Raburn led off the fourth with his fourth.
Chen insisted the quick trip to the minors wasn’t on his mind.
“I didn’t even think about it because that’s something that’s in the past,” Chen said through a translator. “Today, I was just focusing on the game. That’s all. Trying to get hitters out.”
Even though he expressed his disappointment through Twitter, Chen said he and Showalter are fine.
“We haven’t had a chance to talk today but I don’t think there is any problem,” Chen said. “We talked before I got optioned. So, I don’t think there’s anything between us.”
The Orioles scored three runs off the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, Corey Kluber.
J.J. Hardy homered in the second, his third and first since May 15.
In the sixth, the Orioles took a 3-2 lead when Paredes started the inning with a single and ran to third on Chris Parmelee’s one-out double. He scored on Hardy’s sacrifice fly.
Ryan Flaherty’s bloop single scored Parmelee.
Kluber struck out 10, the 20th time this season the Orioles have fanned at least that many times in a game according to STATS LLC.
Zach Britton pitched the ninth for his 22nd save as the Orioles moved five games over .500 for the first time this season.
“As a team, we’re playing pretty similar, I think, to last year,” Britton said. “We started off slow and then we picked up the pace. For us, it’s about everything coming together, pitching, defense, our defense has been outstanding the last couple of months. Pitching is starting to get better, and guys are getting the big hits when we need them.”
NOTES: Showalter said that the demotion of T.J. McFarland, who was optioned to Norfolk before the game, could be temporary if the Orioles decide to put Adam Jones on the disabled list.
“Nobody wanted to send Mac out. The way it will all shake out probably is not apparent today,” Showalter said. “It's not comfortable having that conversation with T.J. He's been key in three or four games for us already, a difference-maker. He'll be back. And we will be at seven [relief] pitchers at some point, hopefully soon.”
Davis played right field for the first time since Oct. 3, 2012. … Cody Anderson (0-0, 0.00) faces Chris Tillman (5-7, 6.22) on Saturday at 7:15 p.m. The game will be televised by FOX.