Baltimore Orioles “Cruz” to a Texas-sized victory
Ubaldo Jimenez deserved better than a no-decision in Texas last night. Jimenez’s line: 5.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 4 BB, 5 K. It wasn’t perfect, but Jimenez pitched more than well enough to win last night. And luckily for him manager Buck Showalter is aware of that.
Showalter is aware of all aspects of the game, especially players that keep the team in the game as Jimenez did last night.
Both Jimenez and Texas starter (and former Orioles) Joe Saunders retired the respective sides with relative ease the first time through the order. They both allowed base runners, but were able to pitch out of the innings. However as the teams took their second turns through the order, hitters started to figure things out.
Adam Jones worked a quality at-bat, and sat on a fastball. He got that fastball on a 2-2 count, and stroked it the opposite way. The ball faded a bit, but smacked right off the foul pole for a solo homer which put the Baltimore Orioles up 1-0 off the bat of Adam Jones. However Texas had an answer, as so many teams seem to have in that ballpark. Adrian Beltre, who’s been an Oriole killer in the past, hit a 1-0 pitch into the left field seats and the game was tied at one after four innings.
Delmon Young smacked an RBI-single in the sixth which scored Adam Jones, giving the O’s a 2-1 lead. However that run came as a result of Jones’ heads up baserunning earlier on J.J. Hardy‘s flyout when he tagged up and went to third base. Again, it’s often the small things in games that make a difference.
Jimenez was lifted with two outs in the sixth, and Brian Matusz needed only one pitch to retire the side and record the final out. However Matusz was unable to continue that magic in a sense, as he gave up a solo homer to Chirinos in the last of the seventh which tied the game at two. The previous inning the O’s had stranded the bases loaded, which many fans probably felt would find a way to come back to haunt them.
However the O’s weren’t done yet. Delmon Young stroked an infield single with out out in the eighth, and Jonathan Schoop was hit on the arm by a pitch. That brought Caleb Jospeh to the plate, and he promptly split the outfielders in right center to plate Young and leave two runners in scoring position. Nick Markakis would follow with an RBI-single, giving the O’s a two-run lead.
And just for good measure, Manny Machado would plate Schoop with a bouncer up the middle off the pitcher’s glove, and the Orioles took a lead of 5-2. In games such as these it’s the team who’s ‘pen fails that loses, or the one who’s bats become clutch that wins. One might argue that those are in effect the same thing, however the fact is that Oriole bats came through big in the clutch last night. Not all of the run-scoring hits were majestic shots, nor did they need to be. They needed to be good enough to get runs home – and they were.
Courtesy of Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports
But the best was yet to come off of Oriole bats. Nelson Cruz came up with Markakis and Machado on base, and hit the first pitch he saw deep – and I mean DEEP – into the Texas night. 8-2 probably isn’t quite indicative of how close this game was until late, however again the Orioles pounced on Texas at just the right time. That’s often how things go in baseball, and in terms of wins and losses the benefactor was Brian Matusz who took home the win. Texas would tack on a run in the last of the ninth against Preston Guilmet (on a sac fly), however Oriole bats were the dominant factor in the game – headlined of course by Cruz’s shot.
The series continues tonight with Bud Norris taking to the mound for the Birds once again in the state of Texas. He’ll be opposed by Texas’ Nick Martinez.