Two of the four games have been played and won by the O’s. Yes, the White Sox are struggling big time but the O’s haven’t been too great either. If you’ve been watching, these past two games have been very, very weird ones with wild pitches and whatnot and you also have to remember that U.S. Cellular Park is definitely a hitters park. BUT, the O’s seem to be taking advantage of every mistake the other team makes and scoring when they get the chance.
On Friday, Arrieta was on the mound against John Danks. Arrieta pitched a great game to get the win. I would have liked him to go longer seeing as he only went 5 innings and his pitch count was only at 86. He could have gone another inning. He gave up 5 hits and 3 runs (including a 2-run homer to Pierzynski), which like I’ve said before, is basically the kind of game a starter needs to pitch to get a win most of the time, as long as they have run support. Arrieta did have that run support and he got the win. Clay Rapada came in in the 6th and unfortunately gave up a homer to Lillibridge but it didn’t matter. Jim Johnson came in and had a beautiful 7th inning retiring the side in order, including 2 strikeouts. I can’t gush about this guy enough. He did have a bad inning his last outing but besides that, he’s been lights out all season. Jeremy Accardo came in to finish up the last two innings giving up no hits no runs, one free pass, and getting two strikeouts. The bullpen (besides Rapada) was awesome on Friday and that’s definitely a good sign.
As for the offense on Friday, it got hot as well. B-Rob went 2 for 4 including 3 RBIs and a double. Nick Markakis got walked twice and scored a run. Derrek Lee went 1 for 5 when it counted to get an RBI. Luke Scott went 2 for 4, including a solo homer. Mark Reynolds went 1 for 4 with 3 runs scored and an RBI. Matt Wieters had another huge night going 2 for 4 with 4 RBIs, including a 2-run homer in the 6th, and 2 runs scored. Robert Andino went 3 for 4 with a run scored. What does all of this mean besides a 10-run-scored game? It means that every spot in the line-up CAN produce like we all thought it was going to. When Andy McPhail was putting this line-up together, this is what he imagined. Every player getting RBIs and home runs and hits. This is what the team can do and now that we’ve seen it more than once (11-0 win against Twins), we know that this team CAN win and win big. So, now they just need to keep their bats alive and we’ll be back in the AL East very soon.
Saturday’s game was another good showing by the team. This is the game where they took every advantage of the weird mistakes the White Sox made. Chris Tillman finally got his first win of the season pitching 5 innings giving up 6 hits and only one run. Now, he did pitch into the 6th inning and he loaded up the bases, but didn’t get an out before he was taken out of the game. He also didn’t get a strikeout, which isn’t the end of the world, but that’s not exactly something you like to see. The real story of this game though was Gonzo (Michael Gonzalez). In every game he’s relieved, he’s given up at least one run. Gonzo came in in the 6th with the bases loaded. He struck out Adam Dunn. Alex Rios hit a sac fly to score Ramirez, the run that Tillman was charged for. After, Gonzo struck out Pierzynski (who, by the way, threw his bat around at the plate and in the dugout in a very distasteful way). Gonzo came back in in the 7th and got 2 more Ks and a ground out in a 1-2-3 inning. This was the most clutch pitching I’ve ever seen, especially by Gonzo. The only left-hander in the bullpen, who didn’t really deserve the job I didn’t think, had his, arguably, best showing of his career against the White Sox. 4 strikeouts in 2 innings as well as getting 3 outs with only one run scored on a sac fly (which he wasn’t responsible for) with the bases loaded is just amazing and it definitely game Gonzo the confidence he needed. I’m actually looking forward to his next outing (something I’d never thought I’d say) to see what he does after that great two innings of work. Finally, Koji came in to pitch the 8th and 9th. He got the 1-2-3 in the 8th but did give up another homer to Rios in the 9th. Luckily, the O’s had scored 6 runs so Koji had a margin for error, but it’s definitely not something good to see.
And for the offense, it was good, but because the O’s got lucky. Roberts doubled in the 1st and went to 3rd following Nick Markakis’ pop fly. Humber throws a wild pitch, allowing Roberts to score. Andino hit his first homer of the season in the 3rd. Following his home run, Markakis struck out but reached first safely due to another wild pitch by Humber. Markakis then steals second, but Humber gets out of the inning. Humber pitched a good game against the O’s, going 7 innings and giving up only 2 runs on 3 hits with 5 strikeouts. The game was still in reach for the White Sox, the O’s only leading 2-1, but it all went bad for the Sox in the 7th. Thornton came in to relieve Humber. Andino gets a lead-off single and steals second base. Then it just got weird. Brian Roberts struck out but he also made it safely to first due to a passed ball by the catcher Peirzynski. So, the score is 3-1 and Markakis singles sending B-Rob to third. Markakis got to second on, yes, another wild pitch, this one by Thornton. Derrek Lee gets a free pass so the bases are loaded for Vladdy with no outs. And he delivers with an infield single scoring Roberts and Markakis, sending Lee to third, and Vladdy reaches second on the throw. The score is 5-1 before Luke hits a sac fly to score Lee running the score to 6-1. That would be it for the offense, but like I’ve said, the O’s definitely took full advantage of their scoring opportunities, which was great.
If the O’s keep up their pitching, keep the bats warm at least, continue their amazing defensive plays, and take advantage of every opportunity they have, they will win and get back up in the AL East race.