A Hardy victory for the Baltimore Orioles
With Nelson Cruz on second base in the last of the seventh (two down) the Baltimore Orioles had Chris Davis coming to the plate with J.J. Hardy on deck. Tampa manager Joe Maddon made what I believed to be a rare miscalculation in deciding to intentionally walk Chris Davis to get to J.J. Hardy. While still a powerful hitter, Davis of course has struggled at the plate this year. Hardy on the other hand always at the very least seemed to put the ball in play.
In arriving at that moment in the game however, the O’s got through an at-times rough Bud Norris outing. Norris’ line: 6 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 5 K. Norris wasn’t a total bust out there, as he did throw six innings. However it’s not necessarily about quality starts at this point in the season. I would submit that we talked a lot about that very topic throughout the first half of the year, but it’s something that we’ve phased out in a sense here on Birds Watcher. And the reason for that is we take cues from the team; furthermore, at this point it’s just about getting the W – whether it’s a quality start or not is superfluous. The Orioles need their starters to put them in a position to win games – Bud Norris did that last night.
Tampa’s Matt Joyce hit a sac fly-RBI and Evan Longoria added a homer in the first inning, and Tampa was off to a 2-0 lead. But Steve Pearce came right back in the last of the inning and smacked a home run of his own to cut the lead to 2-1. The O’s would later tie the game, and in dramatic fashion at that. With runners at the corners Buck Showalter called for a double steal (Cruz at first and Jones at third). Cruz in effect got himself caught in a rundown so as to give Jones a better chance to score, however at the end of the day both runners were safe and the game was knotted at two. A steal of home plate is always an exciting aspect of a game, and it’s not something that we see often. Just add that to the list of reasons why this could shape up to be a special season.
Courtesy of Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
A fifth inning sac fly and an RBI-double by James Loney gave Tampa a 4-2 lead. However for once it was the Orioles against Tampa who played the “anything you can do I can do better” game. Nick Markakis scored on Chris Davis’ RBI-groundout, and on the same play Steve Pearce came in to tie the game on an errant throw by Yuniel Escobar.
Again, my personal opinion at the time was that Joe Maddon should have opted to take his chances with Chris Davis in the last of the seventh. Whether he would have struck out majestically or managed to get on base is something we’ll never know. What we do know however is how things turned out in reality. We know that Davis took his base at first and that J.J. Hardy came to the plate in a key moment in the game. We know that he connected with the ball and sent an RBI-single to right field (scoring Cruz from second). And given that the Orioles’ pen kept Tampa off the board the rest of the way, we know that the Orioles won the game.
So the O’s end up taking three-of-four from Tampa, and by virture of NY losing to Detroit in walk off fashion they re-take a seven-game lead in the division. Minnesota will come in for another four-game set this weekend, with Miguel Gonzalez taking to the mound tonight in the series opener. He’ll be opposed by Minnesota’s Trevor May.