The All-Star break came at just the right time for the Baltimore Orioles.
After losing 10 of their last 13 games, the Orioles, who were once right on the heals of the AL East leaders, had slipped all the way back to fourth place.
Following the four days off for the Mid-Summer Classic, O’s fans hoped Buck Showalter and company would quickly get back on a winning track.
Thanks to J.D. Martinez robbing Chris Davis of a two-run home run, the third time Davis has been robbed of a home run this month, Baltimore dropped its first game after the four-day layoff against the Detroit Tigers.
It looked like Baltimore was going to continue its tailspin in the start of the second half of the season as that marked the third three-game losing streak in the month of July.
However, over the course of its next two games, Baltimore outscored the Tigers 12-3 and an outstanding pitching performance from Chris Tillman, and a start from Miguel Gonzalez that was enough to get the job done.
Tillman threw a complete-game shutout Saturday night, retiring 23 batters in a row after allowing a lead-off single to Ian Kinsler and issuing a walk to Victor Martinez. Baltimore won 3-0 behind a Manny Machado solo home run, and a two-RBI single by Caleb Joseph in the ninth inning.
Gonzalez allowed just two runs on six hits in five innings of work, but his five innings were important.
Gonzalez keeping the Tigers’ powerful offense off the board as much as he could allowed the Orioles offense to break out for its highest-scoring game since July 5th.
Like the Baltimore offense, starting pitching was also inconsistent heading into the All-Star break.
In five of the team’s last 13 games, the Orioles allowed five runs or more, and Baltimore lost each of those five games. However, in four games prior to the break, the O’s lost games in which the pitching staff allowed three or less runs.
Despite the inconsistencies in both the offense and the pitching, the Orioles are still in contention.
By comparison, the Tigers and the Orioles have nearly identical records following Sunday’s game. Baltimore sits four games out of first place behind the New York Yankees, where as Detroit (45-46) is 10.5 games out of first place in the AL Central.
Baltimore has a chance to make up some ground in the division as it starts a three-game series against the Yankees and then heads to Florida for a three-game series against the Tamp Bay Rays.
Hopefully the last two games in Detroit are signs of things to come as the Orioles round out the month of July with a combination of good offense and good pitching.
It will also be interesting to see what Baltimore does financially the rest of the month, as one move could make the Orioles a serious contender in the American League.
The most recent player the Orioles have been associated with “expressing interest” in is San Diego Padres outfielder Justin Upton.