I’ll give Boston credit; they didn’t necessarily find themselves dwarfed at the pressure of playing a contender like the Baltimore Orioles, although they certainly didn’t win either. The O’s went back and forth a couple of times with the BoSox before finally settling with a 4-2 victory at historic Fenway Park. Miguel Gonzalez pitched a pretty decent game for the Orioles, who remain a full game behind New York for the division lead. Gonzalez’s line: 6.1 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 3 K. In drawing another parallel with 1997, Jim Johnson earned his 46th save on the season, which sets a new team record. The previous record of 45 was set by Randy Myers in 1997. Kudos to Johnson, who when dropping the number 46 on WBAL’s post game show, mentioned how much the O’s miss #46 (Mike Flanagan) after his untimely death last year.
Boston’s Daniel Nava doubled to lead off the third inning, and he promptly scored on Pedro Ciriaco’s RBI-double. Even given the fact that they appeared to be running a triple-A lineup out on the field, any team with RED SOX across their chests at Fenway Park is always going to be dangerous. However the Fighting Showalters came back; after Hardy’s single and Jones’ double to lead off the fourth, the Birds found themselves with two runners in scoring position and nobody out. They both scored on Matt Wieters’ single to right, giving the Orioles a 2-1 lead at Fenway. Boston tied it back up in the fifth when Ciriaco scored on Dustin Pedroia’s RBI-single, and away we went tied at 2.
Yesterday I briefly mentioned how the Boston Red Sox fans would come down to Baltimore over the years and take over Camden Yards when the two teams would play. I saw something at Fenway last night that I never would have expected; orange and black. It was far from an Oriole fan takeover, but there were sprinklings of Oriole fans throughout the crowd, many of whom came up from Baltimore to root on the team in a pennant race. Having seen a game in the Fenway grandstand, I know that the fans there are actually fairly welcoming to out-of-towners. However it had to be odd to them to see so many out-of-towners last night en masse in their park. I’m sure the local hotels, restaurants, bars, etc were happy though!
Jones scored in the sixth off of a Matt Wieters double to give the O’s the lead once again. Following a wild pitch which sent him to third, Wieters would later score on a Mark Reynolds RBI-single. Boston would never really threaten again in the game, although Daniel Nava made it to second base in the last of the ninth with two outs. Miguel Gomez, who represented the tying run, struck out to end the game, giving the Orioles their 86th win on the year and Johnson the team saves record.
The only downside to this one was the fact that second baseman Robert Andino was drilled in the head by Boston reliever Mark Melancon in the top of the ninth. Andino actually took a few steps towards the mound before going to first base, but he was lifted by manager Buck Showalter in a cautionary move. Andino was sent to a local hospital to get a CT scan, the results of which have not yet been released to the media. The question is whether or not it was intentional. First off, when pitchers throw at batters they never target the head. That’s not to say that Melancon wasn’t throwing at Andino, however if he was that was a pitch that got away. Many people felt that given the whole “curse of the Andino” thing from last year, that was their way of hitting back. The BoSox do actually have a reputation as being head-hunters; whether or not that was intentional or not will never be known. But if I was a Boston hitter I might make sure my feet were in good working order because I’d expect to do some dancing today.
Randy Wolf is being summoned from the bullpen to make this afternoon’s start against Boston. The veteran southpaw is 2-1 for his career at Fenway as a starter; it’s unclear weather or not Wolf is now a full-fledged member of the starting rotation, or if this is another spot start. Wolf will be opposed by Aaron Cook, who snapped a six-start winless streak his last time out against Tampa.