Baltimore Orioles fans probably felt a twinge of sympathy for the Texas Rangers last night. For a time it seemed that whatever they did somehow went wrong. Chris Davis led off the second inning with what was ruled a double; left fielder David Murphy misplayed what should have been an easy out due to the sun being in his eye. Matt Wieters would double Davis home to give the O’s a 1-0 lead, and would later take second base on a wild pitch. Following a J.J. Hardy single, Danny Valencia reached on an error by SS Elvis Andrus. Brian Roberts capitalized with an RBI-single, and the O’s led 2-0. Again, it kind of seemed like Murphy’s Law from Texas’ perspective; anything that could go wrong, did go wrong.
Chris Tillman was about as good as we’ve seen him this year. Tillman’s line: 8 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 7 K. Tillman painted the strike zone all night. Part of winning games is catching teams at the right time, and there’s no doubt that the Orioles caught Texas when they weren’t playing very well. However the flip side of that is that Texas caught the Orioles when they were playing well. Orioles’ pitching has always seemed to struggle at Rangers Ballpark; not this year. Tillman mixed in his off speed stuff at strategic times, which kept Texas hitters guessing. Perhaps the best pitch that he made was a curve that he threw for a strike three in the third inning to Craig Gentry. To add insult to injury for Texas, the lone run that they put forth (in the fifth inning) was overshadowed by head-scratching base running. Ian Kinsler‘s RBI-single scored Elvis Andrus, however David Murphy was thrown out trying to score (after Kinsler got caught in a mini-rundown of his own). Those are mistakes that the Orioles of 1998-2011 might have made, and again I suspect that Orioles fans might feel a twinge of sympathy in that regard.
J.J. Hardy continued to heat up with an RBI-double (scoring Chris Davis) in the third inning, and Manny Machado‘s fourth inning RBI-single scored Brian Roberts. Throughout the game each time Texas seemed poised to get a rally going Tillman would find a way to shut the door. Or in some cases, Texas would shut the door in their own faces in a sense. In the last of the seventh Elvis Andrus drew a one-out walk, only to get doubled off of first when David Murphy lined out to third baseman Manny Machado. Again, those are miscues that fans had seen the Orioles make for years.
Buck Showalter opted to bring Tillman back out to at least start the ninth inning, however he was immediately pulled when Adrian Beltre led off with a solo homer. Brian Matusz allowed a runner with a walk, and Darren O’Day recorded the final two outs to close the Orioles’ 4-2 victory. This game was a rare non-ESPN Sunday evening game. MLB allows Texas to play select Sunday games at night so as to avoid the blistering heat during the day.
With the series sweep, the Birds recorded only their third of the season. They swept Washington in a two-game set at the yard in May, and New York in a three-game set (again at home) at the end of June. Unfortunately they didn’t pick up much ground this weekend with Tampa recording a sweep at Toronto, although Boston did drop a game to NY. However the O’s now lead Texas for the second wild card spot by a game-and-a-half. They trail Tampa for the first wild card spot by two games. (Incidentally, they also own a tiebreaker with Texas after winning the seasons series.) Nevertheless, the Birds will see Tampa on several more occasions, along with Boston (starting next weekend). The Orioles will now travel to Kansas City for a four-game set starting tonight. Scott Feldman will get the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Kansas City’s Wade Davis. Game time is 8 PM eastern time tonight.