The Baltimore Orioles were unable to continue their string of consecutive games with a quality start last night, as Miguel Gonzalez gave up four runs over five innings. Gonzalez’s line: 5 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 5 K. Gonzalez of course was coming off of a DL stint with a strained oblique muscle; so getting back into the swing of things was going to be challenging from the get-go. However Gonzalez looked good enough to put the Birds in a position to win, which is all you can ask of your starting pitcher.
On the other hand, the Orioles were facing one of their former own in Erik Bedard. While Bedard shut them down for two innings, Oriole bats – and eyes – came to life in the top of the third. Jonathan Schoop and Nick Markakis reached on base hits (sandwhiched around a Caleb Joseph strikeout), and Steve Pearce drew a walk. Suddenly the bases were loaded, and Schoop came into score on Bedard’s wild pitch. The Orioles managed to re-load the bases when Adam Jones was hit by a pitch, and Chris Davis came to the plate (with the Orioles leading 1-0).
On an 0-2 count Davis hit a deep shot the opposite way to left field, which was chased by Tampa left fielder David De Jesus. The ball appeared to hit off the wall and into the stands, giving Davis a ground rule double. In the process, De Jesus managed to crash into the wall and for a split second he appeared to be seriously injured before he got up.
However Buck Showalter asked for a replay review, which didn’t cost him a challenge given the fact that there was a would-be home run involved. Replays appeared to show that the ball hit off the base of the foul pole, which would mean that Chris Davis actually hit a grand slam. The
umpires reviewed the play, and in a very timely manner reversed the call giving Davis and the Orioles a 5-0 lead.
However Tampa’s always been a team that’s taken the anything you can do we can do better type of view. They led off the last of the third with back-to-back solo homers, by Sean Rodriguez and Desmond Jennings. They would also put two more up in the fifth on James Loney‘s two-RBI double, cutting the Orioles’ lead to 5-4 and chasing Gonzalez after the five innings necessary to qualify for the win.
Caleb Joseph would lead off the seventh with a double, which brought Steve Pearce to the plate following a Nick Markakis pop out. Pearce sent a shot deep down the left field line, which took the same trajectory as Davis’ earlier grand slam. The only difference was that there was only one runner on and the ball didn’t hit off the foul pole – it went directly over the wall. Either way, it gave the Orioles some breathing room with a 7-4 lead.
The Orioles turned out to need that breathing room, as Tampa put a lot of traffic on the base paths in the 8th. However Darren O’Day was able to limit the damage to only one run which came on a Yunel Escobar sac fly. Zach Britton came on to pitch the ninth and close out the game, and he sent Tampa down in order to preserve the Orioles’ victory.
While the pitching didn’t register another quality start, the final score is really the important part of any game. And the O’s were on the right side of the final score this time. The O’s will have an opportunity to take two-of-three from Tampa in tomorrow’s rubber game, which will be a 1 PM matinee at Tropicana Field. Kevin Gausman will get the ball for the Birds, with Alex Cobb throwing for Tampa.