Before saying anything else, I want to pay a compliment to both Danny Duffy and the Kansas City fans. After two quick outs in the top of the seventh inning of what could have been developing into a perfect game (or no-hitter), Adam Jones stroked a base hit to center field to give the Baltimore Orioles their first base runner of the night. As all of Birdland exhaled, the faithful at Kaufman Stadium rose to their feet and gave Danny Duffy a standing ovation.
Duffy probably pitched the best game of the season league-wide, and it was nice to see the crowd recognize that. I feel that so often we get caught up in wins and losses, and sometimes we don’t take the chance to recognize players who make supreme efforts. It was a similar scene in the top of the eighth inning when manager Ned Yost lifted Duffy and went to the bullpen. As he walked off the field, he doffed his cap to the crowd in appreciation for their support. Class on the part of the fans, as well as the player.
The unfortunate victim of Duffy’s game was Bud Norris, who pitched virtually just as well. Norris’ line: 7.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K. Nori Aoki hit an infield single to J.J. Hardy at short to lead off the game, and then he proceeded to steal second base. He scored on Brett Butler’s RBI-single which both opened and closed the scoring on the day for both teams.
In fairness, Kansas City had some other opportunities to score runs, but they ran themselves out of those opportunities. This was helped by the fact that the Oriole fielders are pretty quick-witted; Cain was thrown out at third base on a fielder’s choice in the last of the second, and Moustakas had a similar out at third in the seventh. However that doesn’t take away from Norris’ effort, as he minimized the damage in the first inning and held Kansas City off the board for the rest of the game.
This is the second consecutive game in which Bud Norris has pitched more than good enough to
win, but the bats couldn’t get the job done. So the question that many Orioles fans had in the wake of the game itself was whether or not Duffy was that good or if he simply looked that good because he was facing the Orioles’ offense. I have news for you folks; the Orioles have a good offense. They aren’t playing as well as they could at the moment, however one would be hard-pressed to say that they aren’t potent at the plate.
Perhaps a better way of putting it is that they have the potential to be very potent at the plate. Again, they’ve also run into some tough pitching this year. Having said that, Kansas City only mustered four hits against Oriole pitching last night, yet I suspect that there are few questions about their offensive output last night. Yet when the O’s defeated Kansas City 2-1 on Thursday, many people questioned whether or not the Orioles had the bats to compete. It’s very possible that this could be viewed as an “east coast vs. middle America” type of thing – we tend to scrutinize things much more stringently in this region of the country.
The O’s did load the bases in the top of the ninth, however Nelson Cruz struck out to end the game. So despite the struggles at the plate, the Birds did have the go-ahead run(s) on base at the end. On a side note, Kansas City manager Ned Yost was ejected in the ninth inning arguing that Adam Jones had not foul tipped a ball in the dirt (at which he swung on and missed). Replays seemed to back up Yost’s point, as did the fact that Jones appeared to begin walking back to the dugout in the immediate aftermath of the play. I would submit that the league might want to consider making things like that reviewable, however it would be tough to get a conclusive shot on replay of something like that.
Ubaldo Jimenez will take to the mound in the series finale this afternoon, and he’ll square off against “Big Game” James Shields. Manager Buck Showalter will return to the team today, after spending last night in Texas attending his daughter’s graduation from law school.