Baltimore Orioles Smacked To Victory By J.J. Hardy


One of the big selling points the previous time the Baltimore Orioles played Tampa “at home” was that even though the games were at Tropicana Field, the O’s would get their last at-bats as the home team. However for the first time this season, the Birds actually had Tampa at Camden Yards, wearing gray, and they (the O’s, that is) had their last at-bat in a true home game.

Who hits last only becomes an issue in a game that’s close, which is exactly what we had tonight between the Orioles and Tampa. If you’re like me and thus a fan of pitching, boy did you get a treat! Miguel Gonzalez was stellar for the Orioles, going deep into the ballgame when it was direly needed – following a doubleheader. Gonzalez’s line: 8 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 6 K. 

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The zero walks is something which is especially a good sign. Gonzalez was throwing strikes. So much so that the only mistake he made was catching too much of the plate with Steven Souza at the plate in the second. Souza smacked a homer, which gave Tampa a 1-0 lead. However that aside, Gonzalez was on his game. And that’s excatly what you need your pitcher to be when you aren’t scoring runs.

And the Orioles didn’t score runs until we got into the seventh inning. And the reason for that was that Tampa starter Nathan Karns was just that good. It’s easy to say that the Orioles are struggling to score runs, however tonight they simply ran into a buzz saw in terms of the opposing team’s starting pitcher. However Karns was lifted after six innings – and more on that a bit later.

After Karns left the game, Chris Daivs sent a moonshot onto Eutaw St in the seventh, which tied the game. Darren O’Day relieved Gonzalez in the ninth, and immediately got himself into trouble. After two singles to start the inning, Gonzalez hit Logan Forsythe on the shoulder which loaded the bases with nobody down.

So at that point one figures that the Orioles might be nearing the end of the line. Hardly, in reality. O’Day struck out Souza, and then took Astrubal Cabrera to 3-2 before he also struck out. That brought Jake Elmore to the plate, and he bounced out to Manny Machado at third base to end the threat.

As I’ve said many times, pitchers by nature will get themselves into trouble – as we saw with O’Day tonight. But the good ones will find ways to get out of trouble. With the bases loaded and nobody down, one has to figure that the likelihood of the team at bat scoring a run is pretty good. However O’Day forced himself to walk a tightrope flawlessly if he wanted to get out of the inning unscathed – and he did.

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  • Travis Snider would lead off the last of the ninth with a single, and later in the inning after two outs had been recorded Everth Cabrera (who pinch ran for Snider) went to third on Chris Davis‘ single. After Tampa manager Kevin Cash changed pitchers for the upteenth time, J.J. Hardy came to the plate. And when Hardy’s line drive cleared the infield and hit the outfield grass, the Orioles had a

    Courtesy of Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY

    hard-earned 2-1 victory over Tampa.

    My personal opinion is that Tampa manager Kevin Cash all but managed himself out of a win – or at least a shot at one. Karns was cruising through the game, and his pitch count was in the low-80’s. Yet he was taken out. On top of that, he blew through five relievers (in what ended up being a 2-1 game)…which bodes well for the Orioles going into tomorrow.

    The series continues tomorrow with Wei-Yin Chen on the mound for the Orioles. Chen will be opposed by Erasmo Ramirez. Game time is set for just after 4 PM.

    Next: American League All-Star Voting: Five Baltimore Orioles Who Belong On The Team

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