You always want to take two-of-three in a series, especially in a pennant race and you’re playing the teams above you. However if you can’t do that you at the very least want to avoid a sweep. The Baltimore Orioles did precisely that last night as they defeated Boston 3-2 in the series finale at Fenway Park. The Birds got seven strong innings out of starter Chris Tillman, who finally recorded his 15th win of the season after several attempts over the past few weeks. Tillman’s line: 7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 8 K. That stat line combined with the other two games in this series show you how fat Boston was getting off of walks issued by Orioles’ pitchers. As MASN analyst and former Oriole Rick Dempsey always says, “…nothing good ever happens after a walk.”
Boston took an early 1-0 lead in the last of the second when Daniel Nava scored on Stephen Drew‘s RBI-single. That would be the only hit that they would have with RISP on the night however, as Oriole pitching shut them down. One half inning later in the top of the third, the Orioles seized control of the game before Boston could get their sea legs underneath them with the lead. Manny Machado stroked an RBI-double to center with runners at first and second and one out. Suddenly the Birds held a 2-1 lead. For most of this series, Boston’s attitude has been anything you can do I can do better. The Orioles of course during most of this time were seemingly fighting themselves as opposed to the BoSox, however that wasn’t the case last night as Tillman mowed down Boston hitters left and right.
Chris Davis‘ RBI-double would score Adam Jones in the fifth, however that was the final run the Orioles put up. Boston starter Jon Lester seemed to match Tillman pitch-for-pitch in what turned out to be a pretty awesome pitcher’s duel to watch. Of course Boston tried to pull their normal dramatics in the sixth when Shane Victorino muscled a homer, however it was of the solo variety and it only brought Boston to within 3-2. Daniel Nava would also hit a double with two outs, however Tillman pitched out of the jam and the game went on. Boston’s a team that seems to take advantage of “late mistakes” that teams make. If this series is any indication they’re the kings of two-out and two-strike base hits, home runs, etc. However in this case Chris Tillman was having none of that, and he shut the door on Boston’s rallies before they got going.
Jacoby Ellsbury singled to right in the last of the eighth off of Tommy Hunter, and promptly stole second. The Boston comeback machine was starting to rev up, but so was the Orioles’ bullpen. Hunter induced a Victorino strikeout, and Dustin Pedroia flied out to right field. Brian Matusz came in and struck out David Ortiz to end the threat. Jim Johnson came in for the last of the ninth, which started in a bizzare fashion. Daniel Nava hit a grounder to Johnson, however Chris Davis also made a play for the ball and thus wasn’t covering first (a rare Davis miscue in the field). Johnson had to eat the ball, leaving the tying run on first base. However he then induced a double-play, and struck out Saltalamacchia to end the game.
This is a big win for the Orioles, and about as close to a must-win game as one can get. That combined with the fact that both Tampa and Oakland lost during the day yesterday is good news for the Birds, who now head to the Bronx for a three-game set with the NY Yankees this weekend. Miguel Gonzalez will pitch for the Orioles tonight, and he’ll be opposed by C.C. Sabathia of New York. One thing to watch with Gonzalez is that he’s pitched twice in relief this past week (Sunday and Wednesday). While those were very short outings, one has to wonder how much rope Buck Showalter‘s going to give him in this game. BUCKle Back Up!