The Baltimore Orioles appeared to break out of their mini-slump of sorts yesterday with a 10-7 win in the series finale in Tampa. Granted the O’s were forced into a salvage job in trying not to get swept, and granted the victory ended up being much more difficult than it needed to be, but it’s still a win. When you can put up ten runs over sixteen hits while the likes of Chris Davis is going 0-for-5, you’re in pretty good shape. Chris Tillman turned in another solid effort in the win, with five strikeouts. Tillman’s line: 6 IP, 4 H, 3 R (2 earned), 1 BB, 5 K.
Tillman was spotted a 2-0 lead before he even took to the mound when Manny Machado made Tampa starter Matt Moore pay for hitting him with a pitch. Moore, who was lights out the first two times he faced the Birds, struggled with command yesterday. Following the HBP, J.J. Hardy shot a double all the way to the wall which scored Machado. Adam Jones would follow suit with a double to the wall, scoring Hardy. The O’s piled big inning upon big inning in a sense, with Alexi Casilla sacrificing Danny Valencia home in the second which was followed by two RBI-doubles from Manny Machado and J.J. Hardy. After Tampa got a run back in the last of the second, Casilla singled with the bases loaded which scored Matt Wieters from third base. However an E2 on the catcher Molina also allowed Valencia to come in to score, and the Birds led 7-1. Following a Markakis sac fly-RBI, that lead extended to 8-1.
Adam Jones’ solo homer in the fourth took the Orioles’ lead up to 9-1, but Tampa closed to 9-2 on Ben Zobrist‘s solo homer. Keep in mind that Tampa plays the “we don’t quit game” better than anyone in the league. In fact, I disagreed with the Orioles scoring their final run of the game, which came in the seventh inning while they were already up 9-3. Alexi Casilla led off the inning with a single, and then scored all the way from first on Nick Markakis‘ RBI-double. Third base coach Bobby Dickerson waved Casilla around from third base, however I felt that he should have held him up. I’ve said before that I’m big on the unwritten codes of the game; up by five plus runs in the later innings of a game, you should somewhat turn into a station-to-station team. However Dickerson waved Casilla home, and I suppose in retrospect it’s a good thing he did given the fact that Tampa made a comeback attempt.
Tampa greeted Brian Matusz in the last of the eighth by putting three runs on the board, two of which came on a Sam Fuld home run. Luke Scott singled in the third run, cutting the Orioles’ lead to 10-6. Tommy Hunter was brought in to complete the inning, and he came out to begin the ninth, however he allowed a runner to get into scoring position before giving way to Jim Johnson. That run would later score when Johnson gave up an RBI-single, however the next batter popped out to J.J. Hardy at short to end the game.
Very satisfying win from the Orioles’ perspective, even though they dropped two-of-three in the series (albeit turning in a .500 road trip). Granted things got a little hairy in the end, however the luxury you are granted when you have a massive lead as such is that the other team has to come all the way back if they want to win. One small matter that might be of a slight concern is that Jim Johnson had to come out of the bullpen to complete the game. Granted he only needed to record one out, however if you believe in only using a reliever for a certain number of days in a row that’s a game that the Orioles just as well would have rather Johnson taken off. On the other hand it’s probably a wash given that Johnson hadn’t worked since Thursday, however the point is that you’d like to limit the times you use certain guys.
The Orioles return home to open up a three-game set with Anaheim tonight at Camden Yards (weather permitting). While Anaheim has been struggling of late (dropping two-of-three at Fenway this past weekend), the pitching matchup tonight probably favors them a bit. The Orioles will send Freddy Garcia to the mound this evening to face Jared Weaver of Anaheim. Garcia of course is 2-3 on the year and is coming off of a tough start last week in Houston. However he’s beaten Anaheim in six consecutive decisions, and he took a no-hit bid against them into the seventh last month. Weaver of course has spent time on the DL this year, but when healthy we all know what he’s capable of doing. With that said, whether or not mother nature allows this game to be played is anyone’s guess!