As we say after almost every loss, you can’t win them all. The Baltimore Orioles fell in game three of this four game set with New York yesterday afternoo, 3-2. The loss snapped the Orioles’ six-game winning streak, their longest of the season to date. However losses at this point simply delay the inevitable for the Birds, as their path to the division title is all but guaranteed. Don’t misread my point there; NOTHING is guaranteed in baseball until it’s been clinched. However it would take an epic collapse for someone else to leapfrog the O’s at this point.
Despite one inning of struggles, Miguel Gonzalez gave the Orioles a solid start yesterday. Gonzalez’s line: 6 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 1 K. Gonzalez’s problem was that New York’s starter was just as great – if not a bit stronger. Sean Greene dominated the Orioles’ lineup, which is still somewhat in flux due to the absence of Chris Davis. what’s unknown is who will play where each day; what’s guaranteed is that if history is any indication, Buck Showalter and the players on this team will find a way.
Gonzalez struggled to find the strike zone in the second inning to the point to where Showalter actually got the bullpen going. But he righted himself – after putting the O’s in a three-run hole. Brian McCann smacked his first homer on the road since May to give NY a 1-0 lead. Following a walk and a double, Richardson would stroke an RBI-single to score one more. Richardson and Chris Young (who was on third) attempted a double steal, which was successful and gave New York a 3-0 lead. You don’t often see a straight steal of home plate so often anymore, which might be part of why the Orioles were caught off-gaurd. However Gonzalez righted himself after that, and buckled down to retire the side.
Nelson Cruz scored Nick Markakis on an RBI-single in the last of the third, however that was the most the Birds could muster for some time. This was a classic pitchers duel, and withstanding the second inning Gonzalez held up his end of the bargain. Steve Pearce would
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add a solo homerin the last of the sixth as Greene began to tire, however the New York bullpen closed the Birds down – as did the Oriole bullpen with NY.
The Orioles did have the tying run at third base in the ninth, however Jimmy Parades died at third when Nick Markakis grounded out to end the game. Unfortunately for the Birds, Toronto beat Tampa yesterday afternoon as well so the magic number remains at five. If Tampa can beat Toronto this afternoon, it could be down to four by the time the O’s take the field this evening in the series finale with New York. This game was played simultaneous to the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Star Spangled Banner a few blocks away at Fort McHenry. Fans at yesterdays game were treated a few times to the image of the Navy Blue Angels flying in formation over the ballpark.
This series will of course end tonight before a national television audience on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. Chris Tillman will be on the mound for the O’s, and he’ll be opposedby Hiroki Kuroda. Earlier this week I had the opportunity to speak with ESPN’s Dan Shulman, “The Voice of Sunday Night Baseball,” via telephone about the Orioles. Check back with us at approximately 5 PM for my column outlining that conversation. I think that O’s fans will like what Mr. Shulman had to say about the team! Shulman, John Kruk, and Curt Schilling (who’s making his season debut after chemotherapy) will have the call of the game on ESPN just after 8 PM. The game will be preceeded at 7 PM with Baseball Tonight Sunday Showdown with Karl Ravech and Hall of Famer Barry Larkin.