Our long national nightmare is over! The Orioles won their first game since September 16th. I couldn't even remember that game, so I looked back at the recap. Wow. I was happy back then. Sadly, even then Jim Johnson pitched poorly as he blew the save that night and was saved by Matt Wieters' walk off home run.
Matt Garza made the start for the Rays and pitched 6 innings, giving up three runs. He didn't pitch poorly by any means. The only extra base hit he allowed was a first inning double to Cesar Izturis, who would score on a single by Nick Markakis that deflected off of Jason Bartlett's glove. The O's other two runs were scored on singles by Melvin Mora and Jeff Fiorentino. Most days 3 runs wouldn't be enough for this team and its pitching staff, but tonight it held up.
Chris Waters made his first start of the year and came through in a big way. He pitched 5 innings, allowing 1 run on just two hits. He was rolling after 5 innings, but since he hadn't started a game since September 5th in Norfolk, he probably didn't have much left. The effective and decidedly un-Oriole like pitching continued as Cla Meredith, Alberto Castillo, and Danys Baez pitched the 6th, 7th, and 8th innings without allowing a hit.
The O's entered the 9th with a 3-1 lead when poor, sad, awful Jim Johnson came into the game. The perfect way for this losing streak to end would be if JJ had been strong and looked good. If he'd thrown that sinker we all know he's capable of, struck a few guys out, and restored our faith in him.
Yeah, that didn't happen. Johnson allowed a lead off double to Ben Zobrist, who is pretty much my least favorite Ray ever. He retired Upton on a popout, and Willy Aybar hit a fly ball to center field. It wasn't hit deep and Jeff Fiorentino, who was playing on the warning track, couldn't get to it. Zobrist moved to third and then scored on Pat Burrell's sac fly. Gregg Zaun hit a pinch hit ground ball single that just eluded Brian Roberts and the tying run was on third with two outs. Jim Johnson looked miserable. He and Matt Wieters couldn't agree on any pitches so Wieters had to go to the mound. Kranitz also went out for good measure. I've never seen anyone sweat more in a temperature controlled dome than Jim Johnson. But he ultimately got the job done, getting Iwamura to ground out right back to him.
O's win! It wasn't pretty, but it worked. They now head home for the final three games of the season where Jason Berken, Mark Hendrickson, and Jeremy Guthrie will do their best to go out on a good note.