The Angels scored 8 runs tonight on 4 home runs, two by the ancient Vladimir Guerrero. The O's answered with two home runs of their own but it wasn't enough to overcome another bad pitching performance.
David Hernandez is a fly ball pitcher (52% of his outs are via the fly ball) so when his location is off it can get ugly. He left a few too many balls up over the plate tonight and the Angels took advantage. Kendry Morales took him deep in the 2nd inning with Juan Rivera on board. Then in the 6th, having thrown over 100 pitches and clearly tired, he allowed a leadoff HR to Maicer Izturis and then a two run HR to Vlad.
The 2nd inning was really Hernandez's undoing, as he threw 35 pitches. After allowing two hits, two walks, and about a million foul balls to Chone Figgins, his pitch count was up to 54 after two innings. Hernandez settled down after that, thankfully. He retired the side 1-2-3 in the 3rd and 5th innings, and in the 4th he gave up two hits but thanks to a double play and some awful baserunning by Erick Aybar he escaped unscathed.
Hernandez entered the 6th inning with 94 pitches and immediately gave up the HR to Izturis. If this were a different game, Hernandez probably would have been pulled right there with the Orioles down by just one run. But due to the monstrosity that was last night's game, the bullpen was toast and David needed to stay in for a bit longer. His location was all over the place as he gave up a single to Abreu and then the home run to Vlad. Still, the gassed Hernandez stayed in the game, finally getting a fly ball out before walking Kendry Morales. His night then mercifully came to an end as Dave Trembley brought in Cla Meredith, the only pitcher not to appear last night. The Claw got the job done, retiring the next two batters.
Cla returned to the mound for the 7th and things didn't go nearly as well. He walked two (Abreu intentionally) and then Vlad limped up to the plate and hit his second home run of the night, giving the Angels 8 runs on the evening and putting the O's in a hole from which they wouldn't recover. That'd be it for The Claw, and Chris Ray manned up to pitch 1.1 innings after going 2 innings last night. Chris Ray has actually looked pretty good of late, though I don't want to get my hopes up. Brian Bass pitched the final inning in an attempt to make up for last night. He didn't allow any runs but did walk one and gave up one hit so he hardly inspired confidence, especially since one of the outs was made on the basepaths as Wieters threw out Izturis trying to steal.
As for the O's offense, they did their job for the 3rd time in this four game series. 5 runs isn't a ton of runs, but would give a decent team a pretty good chance every time. It's a shame the O's aren't decent.
In the first inning, Brian Roberts and Cesar Izturis got things started on the right foot with back-to-back singles, and Roberts scored on a ground ball out by Adam Jones. After a Markakis pop out, Luke Scott continued on the road back to respectibility with a double to put AJ on third, but Matt Wieters struck out to end the inning and the O's would only get one.
Since the All Star Break, Nick Markakis has been a monster, and he continued tonight. In the third inning, Izturis led off with a double but was thrown out at third on a ground ball by Adam Jones. It was a horrible baserunning mistake, but Nick picked up his teammates by lining a double to left. AJ flew around the bases to score and Nick ended up on second base with his 39th double of the year. Luke Scott followed that with a walk and Matt Wieters again made the last out of the inning.
Nick struck again in the bottom of the 6th, leading off the inning with a ridiculous home run to the right field bleachers. It was a no doubter hit at least halfway up the rows of seats next to the scoreboard. That would be it for the O's offense until the bottom of the 9th when Melvin Mora hit his 4th home run of the year with Matt Wieters on base. Nolan Reimold followed that with a triple off of Jose Arredondo, who then gave way to closer Brian Fuentes. Fuentes got Brian Roberts to pop out to end the game.
O's lose. Tomorrow they'll be in Tampa Bay with Jason Berken facing off against David Price, as they head into an absolutely brutal rest of the season. From now until the end of the year the Orioles have the toughest schedule of any team in baseball as they play the Rays (3 series), the White Sox, the Twins, the Indians (2 series), the Yankees (2 series), the Rangers, the Red Sox (2 series), and the Blue Jays (2 series). So....hey the Indians aren't that good! Sigh.
This Just In: Matt Albers has been optioned to AAA Norfolk and will be replaced by Kam Mickolio. Press Release