Miguel Gonzalez grew up in the shadow of “the big A” in Anaheim, and made his first career start there last year for the Baltimore Orioles against his hometown team. He burned them again last night by limiting them to one run in an eight inning outing. Gonzalez’s line: 8 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 5 K. Over those eight innings Gonzalez also only threw 96 pitches. This is exactly the type of outing for which the O’s had been looking on a more consistent basis from their starter. And make no mistake about the fact that it comes at a good time for the club, as they’ll have to turn around and play an afternoon matinee in the series finale against Anaheim today.
It does seem that whenever Anaheim comes to town someone’s getting robbed of a homer in center field. J.J. Hardy hit what should have been a home run to the deepest part of the park, but Peter Bourjos climbed the fence and brought it back in. It was reminiscent of Mike Trout doing the same thing last season at Camden Yards. However as Buck Showalter says, “sometimes you just have to tip your cap.” There’s really no other way to look at it. To that point, Mike Trout’s solo homer in the fourth inning gave Anaheim the lead first. Trout seems to really like hitting at Camden Yards, and he’s certainly not the first visiting player to get into a groove in Baltimore’s park. However Trout’s homers are also coming with nobody on, which is when Orioles’ pitchers are feeling more confident in challenging him. That still means that you have to score two to beat them, however with what Oriole bats are capable of doing that’s generally not going to be a problem.
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The Orioles covered the corners right off the bat in the last of the sixth due to an error by Bourjos in center field, and Manny Macado’s ground out-RBI scored Ryan Flaherty and tied the score. With two outs in the seventh Danny Valencia, Steve Pearce, and Flaherty each hit infield singles to load the bases. That brought Nick Markakis to the plate, and his RBI-single plated two runs and put the O’s in the driver’s seat 3-1. For the most part, Gonzalez never got himself into many jams, and turned in possibly his best outing of the season. I would have considered giving him the ball again in the ninth, but Showalter summoned Jim Johnson from the bullpen. Anaheim actually did put one across following a Josh Hamilton double and an Albert Pujols RBI-single, however Johnson struck out the next batter (Mark Trumbo) to close out the Orioles’ 3-2 victory.
This win is also noteworthy for the Orioles because both Boston and New York also lost last night. The Birds still stand in third place in the division, but they’re now 2.5 games back of first place Boston, while New York is 2 games back. That of course makes this weekend’s series with Boston at Camden Yards all the more big, however the Orioles first need to finish up their business with Anaheim in an afternoon matinee game at 12:30 today. Jason Hammel will get the start coming off of a hard-luck loss in Tampa last Friday night. He’ll be opposed by Jerome Williams, who’s getting a spot start out of Anaheim’s bullpen due to them having played a doubleheader on Saturday in Boston. Looking forward again to that aforementioned Boston series, the O’s will be a bit more rested coming out of today’s game given that it’s an afternoon affair as opposed to Boston who will play tonight in Tampa before flying into Baltimore late after the game is over. But first thing’s first for the O’s: beat Anaheim today.