Welcome Back Nick Markakis?

The Orioles beat the Rays 7-0 last night in the first game of a 3-game weekend series. It was Arrieta vs. Hellickson. Hellickson has been on fire all season for the Rays and we know how Arrieta usually is and how he can have some pretty bad starts from time to time. Luckily, the O’s and us fans got the best outing of Arrieta probably in his career. He went 7 full innings which is difficult for him since he’s such a big strikeout pitcher making his pitch count high early. And on top of the solid outing, he gave up only 2 hits, NO runs, 3 walks, and fanned 4. He now has an 8-3 record, which leads the American League in number of wins (I’m pretty sure). There wasn’t much bullpen action obviously, with Uehara pitching the 8th where he gave up a hit and got a strikeout and Gonzalez pitching the 9th where he walked 2 but struck out 1 and got out of the inning.

On top of Arrieta’s ridiculous outing (he had a no-hitter going into the 6th inning), the offense was the other major piece to this win. And by offense I mean Nick Markakis. Before I talk about him, let’s give some credit where it’s deserved. J.J. Hardy, batting in the lead-off spot again, hit ANOTHER lead-off homer making it his 5th homer of the season and his 2nd lead-off homer in just 3 days. That’s pretty cool. He also reached base at every at-bat going 2 for 2 with 2 walks. Dear Mr. Showalter, PLEASE leave him in the lead-off spot. He obviously loves batting there. Thank you!

Onto the man of the hour. Nick Markakis has gone 4 for 32 in June before last night’s game, that’s only a .125 average with no homers and only 2 RBIs. That’s not the Nick Markakis we know. However, he made a gigantic comeback in last night’s game going 2 for 5 and getting 6 RBIs, which is a career high for him. How exactly did he do this? It’s the bottom of the 2nd and Luke gets a lead-off walk. Mark Reynolds come through and hits a double sending Luke to 3rd. Then, Felix Pie lined out and Andino hit a bunt ground out to Hellickson. J.J. Hardy comes up and gets a free pass. Bases loaded with 2 outs and Nick Markakis at the plate. I was expecting a strikeout or a ground out, something he does very often with RISP. Boy was I presently surprised as I watched Nick smash the first pitch he got over the right field wall to the flag court for the grand slam. If this wasn’t enough for Nicky, he came through in the 8th inning as well. After Mark Reynolds and Felix Pie got out, Andino doubled and J.J. Hardy singled putting men on 2nd and 3rd with, yet again, 2 outs and Nick Markakis at the plate. On the 1-0 pitch he drove the ball to deep left center for a bases-clearing double, putting the O’s up 7-0.

Nick was all the offense in last night’s game besides Hardy’s homer. Adam Jones also went 2 for 5 and Andino went 2 for 4. 7 of the 9 in the line-up got a hit. The offense was in full swing as was the pitching. The Rays ended the game with no runs and only 3 hits. 2 of them by Arrieta, 1 by Koji. It was an amazing game to continue the O’s winning streak to 4 and brings them to 30-31, only 1 game under .500. Unfortunately with the Red Sox sweeping the Yankees, they’ve fallen to 6 games back but that’s not a big deal. I’m more focused on their season record then how close they are to leading the division because we all know they won’t lead the division and won’t be contenders this year. It would be nice, however, to see them finish at least 4th in the division but the Blue Jays are pretty good too so it’ll be tough.

I told you all that sweeping or at least winning the series against the A’s would be a turn around for this team. Now, they beat Hellickson, a great pitcher in the league, and there confidence is raising as is their record. I don’t see a sweep of the Rays but I do see a series win. They’ll probably win Sunday with Matusz on the mound. Tonight, it’s Guthrie vs. Price (who’s 7-5). Guthrie’s record doesn’t even matter because it’s so bad and pretty untelling. Let’s hope he gives a consistent outing like usual but that the offense has another big game tonight to get him a win that he deserves. Go O’s!

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