Baltimore Orioles: Never count these Birds out


As Bruce Springsteen sang of “Glory Days” up at Fenway Park last night, the Orioles were trying to solidify some glory days of their own back at the yard. I’ve said before that most starting pitchers are going to have ten good starts, ten not-so-good, and ten starts that are somewhere in between. Miguel Gonzalez had one of those in between starts last night. He didn’t have his best stuff, but yet he managed to get out of most of the jams that came about. He seemed to be trying to nibble on the corners of the plate, forcing home plate umpire Mike Everitt to make borderline calls (many of which were balls). This meant that Gonzalez pitched from behind in the count frequently, giving the Red Sox several base runners.

Gonzalez’s luck seemed to run out in the fifth when Jacoby Ellsbury doubled home Scott Podsednik and Carl Crawford followed up with a sac fly-RBI, giving Boston a 2-0 lead. The other lingering issue then became that Boston starter Aaron Cook was throwing a no-hitter into the sixth inning. J.J. Hardy took care of that with a one-out single to put runners at first and second. Nick Markakis scored on Nate McClouth’s RBI-single, and Hardy scored a moment later after Cook cost his team a sure out at second by throwing an Adam Jones comebacker into the outfield.

When the smoke cleared on that sixth inning, the O’s had put five runs on the board in total. If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a million times: the fighting Showalters don’t give up. It’s easy to say that when a team comes back and wins, however it’s a lot more difficult to put into practice. Over the past 14 seasons we’ve seen Oriole teams give up after being down, or even when they were winning (see the “Mother’s Day Massacre”, 2007). It might even be human nature to let up just a bit when you finally get a lead after struggling a bit, and that seemed to be what Boston did last night. Furthermore, the Orioles took advantage of an error by Aaron Cook, which looked eerily similar to errors that Oriole pitchers had committed over the years against teams such as Boston.

Even though Boston did make a small comeback effort by putting another run on the board, the damage was done. The coup de grace for Boston was Adrian Gonzalez complaining about being quick pitched by Pedro Strop after he grounded out in the eighth inning. Gonzalez apparently was unaware that quick pitching was a perfectly legal practice if no runners were on base. Given that he led off the inning, that was the exact scenario. Eventually Mike Everitt had heard enough and ran Gonzalez out of the game. Manager Bobby Valentine came out to argue, and ended up getting himself ejected as well.

The Orioles will go for the sweep tonight with Chris Tillman on the mound. Tillman will try to rebound from a clunker last Saturday night against Kansas City. With all of the rumors swirling around the Boston Red Sox clubhouse, you have to wonder how much longer management will allow this to continue with Bobby Valentine. If Tillman wins tonight, does Valentine go to New York with the BoSox, or do they have a new manager? (The follow-up to that for Boston fans should be “who else is out there?”) Nevertheless, Boston will counter Tillman with Clay Buchholtz, who has a 1.15 ERA in his last five starts. The pressure is somewhat off of the O’s tonight given that they’ve already won the series…but remember, Birds of their feather don’t give up; EVER!

Follow me on Twitter @DomenicVadala