The Baltimore Orioles turned four double plays in Friday night’s 5-3 victory over the Angels, but it was a pair of potential double plays that weren’t that proved just as costly during a decisive sixth inning in Angel Stadium.
Angels right-hander Archie Bradley replaced starter Reid Detmers to start the sixth with the Angels trailing 2-0. Trey Mancini singled to left field and took third on Ryan Mountcastle’s single to left-center.
Anthony Santander followed with a shot up the middle that appeared headed toward the second-base bag, giving shortstop Andrew Velazquez a chance for an unassisted double play.
But the ball nicked Bradley’s glove and caromed several feet wide of the bag for an RBI infield single and a 3-0 Orioles lead.
“Yeah,” Velazquez said, when asked if he had a chance to turn two on the grounder, “but that’s so reactionary from the pitcher. It’s hard to be like, ‘Hey, don’t put your glove there if it’s coming right at you.’”
Baltimore loaded the bases on Austin Hays’ infield single. Ramón Urías grounded a ball up the middle that Velazquez fielded to his left, but when he went to flip the ball to second baseman Jack Mayfield, second-base umpire Mark Carlson was in the line of fire.
Velazquez fumbled the ball, and his only play was to throw to first for the out, a run scoring for a 4-0 Baltimore lead. Robinson Chirinos followed with another RBI groundout to make it 5-0.
“I don’t want to blame [the umpire], it wasn’t really his fault,” Velazquez said. “It’s just kind of a weird play where I got the ball to the middle and I turned to flip and he was directly between me and Jack, so I think I kind of panicked and bobbled it a little.”
The Angels cut the deficit to 5-1 in the bottom of the sixth when Max Stassi singled, took second on an error, third onJo Adell’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Velazquez’s sacrifice fly.
Mike Trout led off the seventh with a walk, and Anthony Rendon drove a 2-and-2 changeup from Orioles starter Bruce Zimmermann over the left-center field wall for a two-run homer to pull the Angels to within 5-3.
Right-hander Felix Bautista replaced Zimmermann and got Taylor Ward to fly to the wall in center. Matt Duffy singled to left-center. Jared Walsh, representing the tying run, pinch-hit for Mayfield but tapped out to first. Stassi popped out to first to end the inning.
The Angels threatened again in the eighth when Velazquez reached on a one-out infield single, but Shohei Ohtani hit a 103-mph one-hopper right at Urías, and the second baseman started an inning-ending double play.
“There were a lot of frustrating moments,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “The ball that Archie deflected off his glove was a potential double play. Ward’s line drive to the right-center field fence, I thought that was surely a home run. It’s one of those games where you keep shooting yourself in the foot.”
Zimmermann, mixing a 91-mph fastball with an 85-mph changeup that Velazquez said “was coming in like Bugs Bunny,” an 81-mph curve and 85-mph slider, kept the Angels off balance for most of the night, giving up two earned runs and five hits over six innings and striking out Ohtani three times. The Orioles starter extended his season-opening scoreless innings streak to 14 before being nicked for an unearned run in the sixth and two runs in the seventh.
“He’s good,” Maddon said of Zimmermann. “He really changes speeds well, keeps the ball down, and there’s some deception in it. He’s not gonna throw it a high velocity number, but he’s gonna be hard to hit. That was not a fluke.”
Baltimore took a 2-0 lead in the second when, with runners on second and third and the infield shifted to the left side, Chirinos grounded a two-run single through a vacated second-base spot.
Infielder David Fletcher, sidelined for 10 days by a left-hip strain, started a rehabilitation assignment with triple-A Salt Lake on Friday and went hitless in five at-bats as the designated hitter. When Fletcher, who started four of the team’s first five games at shortstop, returns, Maddon said he will play “more second base than he had before,” a nod to Velazquez’s superb defense at shortstop in Fletcher’s absence.