If I told you yesterday morning that Scott Feldman only lasted five innings against Oakland yesterday (throwing north of 100 pitches), you might have assumed that the Baltimore Orioles had lost. So let’s start there; Feldman’s line: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 4 BB, 6 K. Feldman did in fact struggle out of the gate, walking Coco Crisp on four pitches to start the game. Crisp then went to second base on a balk, and would later score on Callaspo’s RBI-single. But keep in mind that these O’s are pretty versatile…in the last of the inning they came back and seized the lead for good on an Adam Jones RBI-single and a Matt Wieters sac fly.
The runs came in bunches after that. Brian Roberts and Chris Davis checked in RBI-singles in the second, and Manny Machado hit a sac fly-RBI to give the Birds a 5-1 lead. The only issue was that Scott Feldman struggled to get out of innings. Through three he had thrown between 60-70 pitches. Granted the strike zone didn’t appear to do him any favors, but Oakland batters were fouling pitches off left and right. With such a big lead Buck Showalter was doing everything in his power to get Feldman through the necessary five innings to qualify for the win. It wasn’t a bad outing by any means on Feldman’s part, just him facing a tough team that needed to win as much as the Orioles did.
With the Orioles leading 6-1 in the sixth, J.J. Hardy joined the scoring parade with a solo home run to stretch the lead to 7-1. Donaldson smacked a two-run homer in the eighth for Oakland to bring them back to within four, however it was pretty evident early on that this game was destined to be a rout. Incidentally in the third Nick Markakis split the outfielders with a double all the way to the wall in center field, his first extra-base hit in 31 games. In the last of the eighth he decided to add to the Orioles’ lead by leading off the inning with his first homer since June. That was followed by a Hardy single to center, and then Nate McLouth put an end to the day’s scoring festivities with a two-run homer to run the final score to 10-3.
One interesting thing of note was that Showalter called on starter Miguel Gonzalez to close out the ninth inning. He sent Oakland down 1-2-3, however that amounted to Gonzalez throwing a bullpen side session actually in the game. It appears that the Orioles are using today’s off day to reshuffle the rotation just a bit, with Gonzalez not expected to start until this coming weekend when the O’s head to the Bronx.
The Orioles are now 5.5 games out of first, and 4.5 games behind second-place Tampa. They’re also two games behind Oakland for the final wild card spot, although Cleveland is a half game ahead of the Birds. Either one of those spots is still well within the Orioles’ reach, and in a sense they still control their own destiny because they play all of these teams down the stretch. This week’s series at Fenway will be huge…but first the Birds will have an off day today. For the record, Tampa heads to Kansas City this afternoon, Oakland will be in Detroit, and Cleveland will be in Atlanta (starting tuesday).