If you look at the current road trip, the Orioles are starting to trend upwards again. I feel like while the Tampa series was bad, it wasn’t as poor as the Toronto series. Now that the Orioles are in Boston, they’ve definitely taken it up a step. Not that, but the Orioles have made themselves at home in Fenway Park by winning their last seven games there. Red Sox fans are probably wondering whatever happened to the team against whom they’re supposed to “get healthy” and upon whom they’re supposed to “beat up.” Those guys are long gone, and they’ve been replaced by the 2012 Baltimore Orioles.
Not only do the O’s appear to be winning again after a cold snap, but they proved last night that they could do it in different ways. Tuesday’s game was marked by lots of offense and clutch hitting (on the part of both teams). Last night the Birds came back and squeaked out a pitchers duel, 2-1. The great thing about recapping a pitchers duel is that there isn’t much to say!…but in this case that’s not necessarily true. Wei-Yin Chen was fabulous. Che’s line: 7 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 4 K. The zero walks is especially impressive in my mind. In fact, Chen did get behind hitter and into several three-ball counts. However he always landed the pitch that he had to make, getting the batter to pop up or induce a ground ball. This was especially true in the 7th inning when Chen allowed base hits to the first two hitters. After a sacrifice moved them both into scoring position, Marlon Byrd struck out and Aviles popped up to first baseman Mark Reynolds to end the inning.
Oriole bats came across as clutch once again, although they didn’t get the production that they saw on Tuesday. However lets keep in mind that different ebbs and flows in games is part of baseball. With Boston leading 1-0 in the top of the sixth Josh Beckett (who was equally as impressive as Chen) allowed back-to-back singles to Wilson Betemit and Ryan Flaherty. That brought Robert Andino, the modern-day Bucky Dent, to the plate. Andino grabbed the bull by the horns against the Red Sox once again and singled Betemit home to tie the score. Flaherty scored on Endy Chavev’s fielder’s choice, and the Orioles led 2-1. John Johnson retired Boston in order in the last of the ninth to preserve the win, and the Orioles won their first series since May 18-20th in Washington.
This means that the O’s are in effect playing with house money going into this evening’s game in Boston before going home. It’s also worth mentioning that Mark Reynolds made a couple of gold glove-caliber plays at first base last night. Most of Reynolds’ errors seem to be on throws, however when he crosses over to first base his glove is actually fairly decent. Tonight’s starter, Brian Matusz, is coming off of his best start of the season this past Saturday night in Tampa. Over 7 and 1/3 of an inning, Matusz gave up one run over two hits and three walks. The thing that’s impressed me with Matusz thus far in 2012 has been the fact that his curve ball has been deadly. That’s seeming to be his “out pitch,” and he drops it into the zone freezing hitters like there’s no tomorrow. Many of Boston’s hitters like inside heat, so if he can work up some of those curves he’ll have them swinging over the ball. Matusz will be opposed by Clay Buchholtz, who’s gone 15 innings in his last two games and given up four runs in the process. The O’s have already take two-of-three against the BoSox, however a sweep in Bean Town would go a long way towards erasing the memories of Toronto and Tampa earlier in the trip.
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