BALTIMORE (AP) — Rather than dismantle the Baltimore Orioles at the trade deadline, Dan Duquette worked diligently to improve the club.
Appreciative of his confidence, the Orioles backed up his effort with a rousing 2-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Monday night.
Craig Gentry singled home the winning run in the ninth inning, and closer Zach Britton — who was rumored headed out of town hours earlier — got three outs to earn the win.
Baltimore started the day with a 50-54 record, but Duquette, the team’s executive vice president of baseball operations, believes the team can be a contender. He beat the non-waiver trade deadline by obtaining infielder Tim Beckham from Tampa Bay, three days after snagging right-hander Jeremy Hellickson from Philadelphia.
“We still have some hope that we can make the playoffs,” Duquette said, hours before the Orioles extended their modest winning streak to three games.
Caleb Joseph got Baltimore going in the ninth with a one-out single off Joakim Soria (4-3). Ruben Tejada singled with two outs before Gentry hit a grounder up the middle that sent Joseph home from second base without a throw.
“We feel good about ourselves,” Joseph said. “Maybe some of the fans have left, but we still believe in ourselves, 100 percent.”
By keeping Britton (1-0), who has converted an AL-record 57 straight saves, Duquette showed his faith in this team.
“I’ve played with Zach since ’09, so even the thought of not playing with him is not fun,” Joseph said.
Knowing he was going to be sticking around with the only team he’s ever been a part of, Britton walked to the mound in the ninth with a clear head.
“You get some things off your mind that shouldn’t be there and just focus on pitching,” the lefty said.
It was the second loss in 12 games for the Royals, who managed only five hits off three Baltimore pitchers.
The first seven innings featured a pitching duel between Kansas City’s Danny Duffy and Ubaldo Jimenez, both of whom allowed one run and struck out six.
“I just grinded through that outing,” Duffy said. “I felt like I had really good stuff but I didn’t pitch very well. That was the least impressive seven-inning, one-run outing I’ve ever had.”
Jimenez came in with a 6.93 ERA, but on this night he was exceptionally sharp.
‘If he’s not on, we get him,” manager Ned Yost said. “We couldn’t get him. Couldn’t do much against him.”
Kansas City used first-inning doubles by Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer to jump to a 1-0 lead.
Jimenez settled down after that, and Baltimore pulled even in the fifth when Manny Machado doubled and scored on a two-out single by Jonathan Schoop .
Though quiet on the final day of the trade deadline, the Royals welcomed back Melky Cabrera, who made his 2017 debut with Kansas City after being acquired from the White Sox on Sunday.
Playing right field and batting third, Cabrera went 0 for 4.