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Pedroia drives in 4 runs as Red Sox beat Orioles

Pedroia drives in 4 runs as Red Sox beat Orioles

BOSTON -- Drew Pomeranz struck out six in his season debut and Dustin Pedroia drove in four runs and the Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 8-1 Tuesday night.

Christian Vazquez added a two-run triple in the eighth, capping off a 4-for-4 game, as the Red Sox tagged Baltimore pitchers for 15 hits and had back-to-back three-run innings in the seventh and eighth to blow the game open.

Pomeranz, who opened the season on the disabled list with a strained left forearm, took a shutout into the seventh inning. He held Baltimore to four hits and one run in six innings and picked up his first win at Fenway Park.

Pablo Sandoval had a sacrifice fly in the second and Pedroia had one in the fifth off Dylan Bundy (1-1), who was strong through the first six innings. Bundy pitched 6 1-3 innings, allowing three runs and seven hits.

Bundy was pulled after walking Sandoval with one out and Boston up only 2-1. The Red Sox caught a break when shortstop J.J. Hardy botched a grounder that could have started a double play and get the Orioles out of the threat.

Instead, Chris Young reached and Vazquez followed with a single to load the bases. Pedroia blooped a single just out of Jonathan Schoop's reach in shallow right to drive in two, then Andrew Benintendi added an RBI single to make it 5-1.

Chris Davis scored Baltimore's only run, leading off the seventh with a single and scoring later on a fielder's choice.

Adam Jones' one-out double in sixth was just the third hit for the Orioles and ended a run of 12 straight outs for Pomeranz, who preserved the shutout by getting Manny Machado on a pop out to first and Mark Trumbo's fly ball to right. Jones was the first baserunner for the Orioles since the second inning.

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Orioles continue to prove critics wrong, sweep Phillies in fifth win in a row

Orioles continue to prove critics wrong, sweep Phillies in fifth win in a row

By the time the home runs stopped on a humid night in Philadelphia, the Orioles had not just beaten the Phillies for the third-straight game, they’d done so in convincing fashion. 

In an 11-4 win over the Phillies, the Orioles homered twice, had 15 hits and scored in four of the final five innings as they put a bow on their fifth win in a row in a series sweep.

The offense, which has carried the Orioles through the first few weeks of the season, remained red hot as the Orioles kept winning — and kept surprising the league as a result.

“The team is taking good at-bats together, playing good fundamental baseball, playing defense, turning double plays, our pitching is doing a great job for us,” shortstop Jose Iglesias said. “Everything is just going our way. We’ve just got to take it one day at a time.”

The Phillies had a two-run lead for all of one half inning, before four Orioles runs in the top of the fifth inning gave them a lead they wouldn’t give up. 

They added two runs in the seventh, three in the eighth and two more in the ninth. The Orioles have now scored 10 or more runs for the third time in the last six games — with four more innings to play of a completed game Friday afternoon, a game they've scored five runs in already.

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“It’s fun to win, I think this team is doing a great job battling every day,” Iglesias said. “We’re playing a good baseball game right now.”

But it hasn’t just been the bats that have carried the Orioles. Manager Brandon Hyde credited the pitching staff, which has kept batters off the base paths throughout the season. 

Starting pitcher Thomas Eshelman threw five innings, allowed four hits and just two earned runs. More importantly, he and the three Orioles relievers didn’t allow a single walk. 

“We’re just playing good baseball right now,” Hyde said. “Looking at the box score here, no walks tonight. That’s just something we didn’t do well last year. Quite a few games now where we haven’t walked many people. That is super key against good offensive clubs.”

The Orioles entered Thursday night’s game, which was delayed by rain, with one of the best offenses in the American League, with two of its hottest hitters in Hanser Alberto and Iglesias. Both went 2-for-4, and Iglesias added two RBIs. 

Approaching the 20th game of the season — a third of the 60-game shortened season, the Orioles are starting to make the league take notice of what’s going on in Baltimore.

At least through the first few weeks of the season, the Orioles have become the biggest surprise in the sport.

“Regardless of whether we're winning or losing, I see potential,” Iglesias said. “I see hungry players with a lot of talent that want to get better. I see chemistry. I’ve been around and I see a good group that wants to compete and gets along. That, to me, has a lot of value.”

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Looking back at some Orioles preseason projections that look worse by the game

Looking back at some Orioles preseason projections that look worse by the game

Before the season began, discussion about the Orioles mostly consisted of the assumption that another last-place finish in the American League East and a boring, problematic season full of losses was in store.

Now, through the team’s first 17 games, they’ve been carried by a red-hot offense, a surprisingly stable pitching staff and a propensity to win grind-em-out games. With a 10-7 record, they’re currently in a playoff spot in the AL.

Is this an indictment of where they’ll finish the season? Absolutely not. But with more than two-thirds of the season left to play, they’re approaching win totals expected of them in a 60-game season.

At the start of the season, few gave the Orioles a chance to even reach .500, let alone make the playoffs. FiveThirtyEight projected the Orioles would finish 21-39 — the worst record in the sport — and projected they were the only team in the league with less than a one percent chance to make the playoffs. As of 4:41 p.m. on Aug. 13, the record rose to just 25-35 with a 14 percent chance of a playoff berth. Then, the Orioles went out and beat the Phillies for the third-straight game.

Analytical projections weren’t kind, as Fangraphs and PECOTA each projected the Orioles would win 19 and 21 games, respectively. Both projections had the Orioles as the worst team in the sport. 

The ZiPS projected standings had the Orioles at 19-41, eight games behind the fourth-place Blue Jays. It gave them just a 0.9 percent chance to make a wild card spot and a 1.3 percent chance to make a playoff spot. It also had the Orioles with a .525 strength of schedule, the hardest in the league. 

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PECOTA projected the Orioles at 21.5-38.5 with 255 runs scored and 339 runs allowed, both the worst marks in the league. Through 17 games, they’ve scored 96 runs and allowed 81 — a pace of 350.1 runs scored and 285 runs allowed.

Human projections weren’t kind either. The Score projected the Orioles would go 15-45 and finish 13 games behind the fourth-place Blue Jays. CBS Sports had the Orioles’ over-under at 20.5 wins. They’re almost halfway to hitting the over with 43 games left to play.  

No one saw this coming from the Orioles this season, as they’ve firmly entrenched themselves as a playoff contender for the next few weeks — even if they suffer a handful of losses in succession.

I wrote on July 22 that the Orioles would be the worst team in the sport. Right now, they’re making me look stupid.

With a four-game set against the Nationals upcoming, which includes the completion of a game the Orioles are winning 5-2, the path is there to not just make the Orioles a wild card contender, but a team that has a legitimate, and perhaps probable, shot of making the playoffs.

Stay connected to the Orioles with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

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