Wieters helps Orioles roll over White Sox, 10-4

Catcher has two-run homer, two-RBI double; Roberts drives in three runs

  • The Orioles' Matt Wieters (right) is congratulated by teammate Mark Reynolds after his two-run home run in the sixth inning. The Orioles beat the host White Sox, 10-4.
The Orioles' Matt Wieters (right) is congratulated by… (US PRESSWIRE photo )
April 30, 2011|By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun

CHICAGO — One of the first things Buck Showalter did after he was named Orioles manager in August was call Matt Wieters into his office and lay out his expectations.

Showalter, who had done extensive homework on the young catcher during his early days on the job, urged Wieters to be himself and regain the outgoing, take-charge personality he had shown before he made his much-heralded big league debut.

Showalter reminded Wieters that the Orioles were going to be his team someday, and he would trust him to do the right things both on and off the field.

With the score tied in the sixth inning Friday night, Showalter gave his catcher the green light on a 3-0 count, and Wieters responded by launching a two-run homer off Chicago White Sox starter John Danks. Wieters added a two-run double in a five-run seventh inning as the Orioles turned a close game into a 10-4 rout in front of an announced 21,816 at chilly U.S. Cellular Field.

"I felt good all night," said Wieters, who was retired by Danks on deep flyouts in his first two at-bats. "I felt like I was putting good swings on the ball. I knew if I kept finding the barrel, it was going to pay off eventually."

With the two big hits, Wieters improved to 9-for-10 with with runners in scoring position this season with two doubles, three homers and 15 RBIs. With the two-run double in the seventh, Wieters has 22 RBIs in 22 career at-bats with the bases loaded. He entered the night just 2-for-15 with one RBI against left-handed pitchers, but both hits came off lefties.

"He's in a good spot right now," Showalter said of Wieters, who is hitting .260 with four homers and 16 RBIs. "I'm just going to leave it at that. He's worked very hard. Matty has put in a lot of time, and everything in his background says he has the potential to be an offensive force. Like I said all along, he's going to be as good as he's capable of being. I just marvel at what he does behind the plate."

Wieters also threw out the speedy Juan Pierre trying on a stolen-base attempt to end Jake Arrieta's difficult bottom of the second inning, taking the starring role on a night when the Orioles (11-13) started a seven-game road trip by getting contributions from a variety of sources.

Second baseman Brian Roberts went 2-for-3 with a walk and three RBIs, and has driven in a team-leading 19 runs. Shortstop Robert Andino had three hits and reached base in four of his five plate appearances. Left fielder Luke Scott robbed Alexei Ramirez of a home run in the bottom of the third inning when he elevated over the wall to make a superb catch. He tied the score in the top of the fourth with a long home run to center, his fourth of the season.

And Arrieta, clearly pitching without his best stuff and battling right hip soreness on a cold night, allowed three second-inning runs, two coming on A.J. Pierzynski's homer, but managed to get through five innings without anymore damage. He gave up hard-hit balls all night, including a long drive off the bat of the dangerous Paul Konerko with the bases loaded in the fifth. Scott caught the ball on the edge of the warning track.

"Physically, I didn't feel great tonight," said Arrieta, who allowed the White Sox (10-17) three earned runs on five hits and two walks while striking out two in five innings. He is 3-1. "I came out of the game a little early. I wanted to stay in, but they made the call to take me out. A little aggravated hip, but it's not an issue."

Arrieta, who was removed with his pitch count at 86, was put in position for his third win when Wieters drove Danks' 3-0 pitch 388 feet into the left-field seats in the top of the sixth. He had a chance to bat in the inning only because Danks' third strike to Mark Reynolds got past Pierzynski and the Oriole reached first safely.

Asked about giving WIeters the green light on 3-0, Showalter said: "With all our guys, the situation will dictate it some. But there's only one way to gain that and get that and know how to hit in those situations in the American League unless you do it."

The pitch from Danks (0-4) was inside and would have likely been called ball four, but that was a moot point.

"I probably should have taken it, but I was just able to put the barrel on the ball, and it took off," Wieters said.

The Orioles' lead was cut to one on Brent Lillibridge's solo homer off Clay Rapada in the bottom of the sixth. With the way the Orioles' bullpen has struggled recently, there figured to be some anxious moments coming. However, the Orioles eliminated some of the drama by scoring five times in the top of the seventh, all with two outs.

The inning included a costly error by Ramirez on Adam Jones' grounder that loaded the bases. Jesse Crain walked Reynolds on four pitches to make the score 5-3. Wieters quickly fell behind 0-2 against tough lefty Chris Sale before ripping the two-run double into left-center.

"I think his game behind the plate has come along probably more quickly than anybody expected it to," Arrieta said. "And everyone knew that he's going to hit is just a matter of time. It's tough in the big leagues, and being a full-time catcher and hitting for a high average is tough. But he's a guy that can definitely do that. And he's got the ability and the work ethic to be that kind of player."



    Baltimore Sun Articles
    Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.