The Baltimore Orioles last night found themselves on the south side of Chicago, which of course is the baddest part of town. And when you go down there you’d best beware of - Nick Markakis, Nelson Cruz, Bud Norris, and company! Color me guilty, I’ve always been a Jim Croce fan. But the fact is that the Birds took care of business last night – on the south side of Chicago. Bud Norris, the Orioles’ aforementioned starter, was solid in his seven innings of work. Norris’ line: 7 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 5 K.
And the rest of the Orioles did their part as well, putting eight runs on the board behind Norris; albeit some of them came late. The Orioles took a 1-0 lead in the second on a Hardy solo homer, and Steve Pearce ran the lead to 5-0 in the fifth with an RBI-double. An inning later Nelson Cruz smacked his 32nd homer of the season to give the Birds a 3-0 lead.
But at that point in the game the boys from the south side of Chicago weren’t quite out of it – yet. Avisail Garcia brought them back to within 3-2 with a two-RBI single with two down. However Norris buckled back down and induced a Gillaspie fly out, ending the threat. Incidentally, that wasn’t just any old fly out. Gillaspie made a bid for a two-run homer, which would have in theory would have given the
ChiSox a 4-3 lead. Replays were pretty conclusive in that the ball was on it’s way out of the park; heck, it might have even left the park. But Nick Markakis brought it back in, preserving the lead for the Birds.
And once the top of the eighth rolled around, the O’s put an exclamation point on the game. The Birds loaded the bases, and Jonathan Schoop’s three-RBI bases-clearing double put them ahead 6-2. And as things can sometimes go, Markakis came to bat with a runner on base a half inning after potentially making a game-saving play in the field. When the smoke once again cleared, Markakis had smacked a two-run homer, and the Orioles took an 8-2 lead into the ninth inning. That 8-2 lead finished up as an 8-2 victory in game one over the ChiSox.
The O’s now have a 7.5 game lead over New York in the AL East, which incidentally is the largest game-margin lead in any division in baseball. And in this game we saw a return to both good pitching and good hitting all in one, which is something that had evaded the Birds for a few games. As I’ve said many times in the past, teams are going to go through streaks where they aren’t manufacturing runs and aren’t putting runs on the board. This doesn’t mean that they’re incapable of doing so, it just means that there are ebbs and flows throughout the season.
The series on the south side of Chicago continues tonight with Chris Tillman taking to the mound for the Orioles. He’ll be opposed by Chicago’s Jose Quintana, with game time being at 8 PM.