Going into last night’s game there was no reason to believe that the Baltimore Orioles would end up inning a pitchers duel. Not only did the O’s have flyball-happy Freddy Garcia on the mound, but they were fresh off of a 6-2 win on Monday, a 9-3 loss on Tuesday, and of course Wednesday’s 9-6 comeback win (all against Washington). I think that people expected the ball to be popping again, however what we ended up seeing was an old fashion pitchers duel between Garcia and Washington starter Dan Harren. Garcia’s line: 8 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 0 BB, 6 K. Harren wasn’t far behind in his stats, however the Birds were able to put up two runs on him which was all they needed to win.
In a nutshell, Nick Markakis‘ third inning RBI-double gave the Orioles a 1-0 lead. Manny Machado gave the Birds an insurance run in the eighth with Jim Johnson warming in the bullpen, as his RBI-double scored Nate McLouth. The only time that Washington really threatened in the game was in the second inning when they had two runners in scoring position withe one out. However Garcia induced Chad Tracy to send a lazy popup to shallow left field (which was not deep enough for the runner at third to tag up), and Kurt Suzuki popped up to J.J. Hardy at short to end the threat.
There isn’t enough that can be said about how Garcia pitched last night. With perhaps the most potent offense in the American League (Detroit) coming into Camden Yards this weekend, the Oriole bullpen needed some “pre-emptive rest” last night. In going eight innings, Garcia provided that for the ‘pen. With the exception of Jim Johnson (who’s now successfully worked on consecutive nights), everyone in the bullpen has at least one full day’s rest. In the final inning and a half or so of his outing, it was easy to see that Garcia was starting to tire. His fastball started to locate up, however he was successfully able to get his supplemental pitches across for strikes. That shows a pitcher that’s really on his game in the sense that he was inducing outs with his offspeed stuff once his fastball command was starting to fade. Johnson once again sent Washington down 1-2-3 in the ninth for the save, sending the hometown crowd home happy.
For the second consecutive season, the Orioles have won the “Battle of the Beltways,” this year taking three of four as opposed to four of six. They swept the Baltimore games for the second time in the history of the series, the first time being 2010. So is this really a feather in the cap of Baltimore fans? I’m not sure about that necessarily, however I suppose that local bragging rights vouch for something. Winning a series against Detroit this weekend would probably mean much more to the Orioles in the grand scheme of things, just I’m sure as winning a series against Atlanta would probably mean more to Washington. One thing I will say is that if the mid-Atlantic region is any indication, baseball won’t be ceasing the “regional rivalries” anytime soon. As much complaining as we hear about the unbalanced schedule and so forth, from an attendance perspective both Baltimore and Washington fans seem to really enjoy these games.
As I said above the Orioles will face Detroit in a three-game set at the yard this weekend starting tonight. Miguel Gonzalez will get the start for the Orioles, fresh off of a great start last Saturday in Toronto in which he ended up being non-decisioned after Jim Johnson blew a save. He’ll be opposed by Max Scherzer, who will attempt to go 9-0 on the season.