Orioles lose late lead but win battle of attrition


First thing’s first…happy Independence day to everyone in Birdland! My hope is that all Americans take some time out today to remember why we celebrate the 4th of July as a holiday; men sacrificed for a cause in which they believed so that future generations could have freedom. Many folks will spend today shore side, pool side, by BBQ’s, or like me around baseball, however again we should all give a moment of thanksgiving to the likes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, et al.

Speaking of thanksgiving, the O’s are feeling in a thankful mood this morning after snapping their three-game losing streak last night in Seattle. First off, some bad news; the Orioles had to put Brian Roberts on the 15-day DL as a result of a strained groin. In a corresponding roster move, the O’s recalled Xavier Avery from Norfolk, who is presumed to be the lead off hitter for the time being. (Avery didn’t have to sit out the required ten days after being sent down due to  the fact that he was recalled due to injury.) The good news is that Oriole bats are showing some signs of coming to life. The O’s registered five runs on eleven hits. They opened the scoring in the 6th with a flurry of singles and walks, which netted four runs. The best part was that this came against Felix Hernandez, considered one of the best pitchers in baseball. By the time Hernandez was chased in that sixth inning, the damage had been done…for the time being at least.

Wei-Yin Chen was the Yin for the Yang of the Orioles’ offense. He pitched 6.1 perfect innings. In a year when people are starting to take notice of potential no-no’s or perfecto’s as early as the fourth inning, that’s pretty impressive. Chen worked quickly as well, pitching short innings and getting back on the bench. Until that sixth inning Hernandez was equally as impressive, however this illustrates a benefit of working economically as a pitcher. The quicker you get back on the bench, the earlier the opposing pitcher has to come back out on the field. That gets tiresome, even for an all-star like Felix Hernandez. Chen left the game after pitching 7.1 superb innings and giving up two runs.

The only issue was that after Chen left the game Pedro Strop gave up two more runs, tying the game. From the perspective of Oriole fans, many probably felt that the game was over because the Birds would somehow find some way to lose. The act of tying the game also took Hernandez off the hook for the loss and it ensured that Chen could win a game in which he pitched so well. That’s part of baseball; more importantly, the Orioles needed to find a way to win the game outright, and that came in the top of the ninth from the most unlikely of sources. With two outs, Robert Andino got a hold of a pitch and sent it over the left field fence to give the O’s a 5-4 lead. I say that Andino’s an unlikely source because he doesn’t hit many homers; this was his fourth of the season. Nevertheless the Orioles will take it; Seattle went 1-2-3 in the last of the ninth, notching Jim Johnson his 24th save of the year.

That changes the entire scope of things now, as the Orioles get an opportunity to win the series with a win this afternoon. Chris Tillman will make his maiden start in 2012 after coming up from Norfolk today. In 16 starts at Norfolk this year, Tillman’s 8-8 with a 3.63 ERA. He’ll be opposed by Hector Noesi and his 5.69 ERA. Noesi has lost even straight decisions, and he leads the major leagues with ten losses. The O’s will hope to add some extra fireworks to his July 4th this afternoon.

As I inferred above, I will be spending a part of my July 4th at the ballpark even though the O’s are on the road. I invite all of Birdland to drive down to Pfitzner Stadium in Woodbridge, VA to see Dylan Bundy and the Frederick Keys take on the Potomac Nationals at 6:30 this evening. I was never a huge minor league baseball fan growing up, however I’ve been meaning to do my due diligence for Birds Watcher and get out to see Bundy pitch at some point. My presumption was that I’d do it at Harry Grove Stadium in Frederick (at home), however this road game is as good a chance as any. Bundy is expected to only pitch a few innings tonight given that he’ll be headed to Kansas City to pitch in the futures game.

Follow me on Twitter @DomenicVadala