Happy 4th of July everyone! I’m stuck in bed with a cold (in July, weird I know) but that did mean that I was able to watch today’s entire game against the White Sox. The fans in Chicago were treated to a good old fashioned pitcher duel, of which the Orioles ended up on the wrong side, losing 3-2 on a walk off home run by Adam Dunn.
Starter Zach Britton had another strong outing, allowing just 2 runs on six hits with three strikeouts in 7 innings. The strikeouts were low, but the ground balls were high, limiting any potential damage and keeping the score close enough for the Orioles to stay competitive. His toughest inning was once again the 6th, when those two runs crossed the plate, but as Roch Kubatko tweeted:
— Roch Kubatko (@masnRoch) July 4, 2013
There was a bit of controversy about the 1st run to score in the 6th inning, as it appeared on the replays that backup catcher Taylor Teagarden successfully blocked Alexei Ramirez from touching home plate as he slid in. However, home plate umpire Andy Fletcher called Ramirez safe, there was no argument from Buck Showalter, and the inning continued.
As well as Britton pitched, Chicago starter Jose Quintana was better, two-hitting the Orioles while striking out 11 over his seven innings of work. After a single by Nick Markakis in the 3rd inning, Quintana didn’t allow another Orioles runner until a walk to Brian Roberts in the top of the 8th inning. Quintana was especially rough on Chris Davis, who he fanned three times. While the team wasn’t particularly successful against Quintana, they were patient. Markakis, Machado, Jones, Davis, Hardy, and Roberts all saw at least 16 pitches over their at-bats, so the Orioles hitters made Quintana work for each of his strikeouts.
Once Quintana was lifted in the 8th, the Orioles bats came alive, something they have been doing better than anyone in the majors this year. The team ranks first in hits, average, home runs, and doubles after the 7th inning. Brian Roberts started the inning with a walk, advancing to third on a double by Nate McLouth. Matt Wieters, pinch hitting for Taylor Teagarden, brought Roberts home with a bloop single that bounced off the glove of Adam Dunn. Right fielder Nick Markakis tied the game with a sacrifice fly, scoring McLouth.
Fireballer Tommy Hunter, who celebrated his 27th birthday yesterday, pitched a scoreless 8th, but he couldn’t send the game to extra innings in the bottom of the ninth, giving up a home run with one out to Adam Dunn. The Twitterverse lit up Buck Showalter for his decision to leave Hunter in to face Dunn, but before the home run, Dunn had been 0-5 with three strikeouts against Hunter. Hunter was the only reliever to pitch back to back nights, so Brian Matusz, Darren O’Day, Kevin Gausman, T.J. McFarland, and Troy Patton should all be available for the start of the big series tomorrow in New York.
Observations: Manny Machado is now riding a 9 game hit streak with his single in the 1st inning. However, with 5 strikeouts over the last 2 games, including 3 last night (the first time in his career he had 3 strikeouts in a game), his doubles total still stands at 38.
J.J. Hardy had some deceptive outs in this series. He hit two balls last night and one today that could have easily been home runs. His error in the 1st inning was only the 26th by an Oriole this season. Comparatively, the error by Dunn that lead to Roberts scoring in the 8th was the 56th by the White Sox this year.
Adam Jones drew a walk today! It was his first base on balls since May 8th, a gap of 43 games and 184 plate appearances, the longest stretch between free passes in baseball this year. Unfortunately, it was all for naught as Chris Davis promptly lined into a double play to end the inning.
Brian Roberts continues to impress in his return from the disabled list. He may be the oldest guy on the team at 35, but his fresh legs were evident throughout the series, both in the field and at the plate.
The All-Star voting ends tonight, and barring any ballot box stuffing, the Orioles should have 3 starters, Chris Davis, J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones. Nick Markakis, Matt Wieters, and Manny Machado are all still in the running for reserve spots. The Home Run Derby is Monday, July 15th, with the All Star Game on July 16th, both from Citi Field.
Up next is a big series in the Bronx. Right now, the pitching matchups are: Miguel Gonzalez/Ivan Nova (Friday), Chris Tillman/Andy Pettite (Saturday, that should be a dandy), and Jason Hammel/Phil Hughes (Sunday). The Orioles will then head home to Camden Yards for an even bigger 7 game homestand, 4 games with the Texas Rangers and 3 with the Toronto Blue Jays before the All-Star Break.