In tonight's Game Thread post I said, "Hopefully the Orioles can make up for their embarrassing display last night with a well pitched, fundamentally sound game and come away with the win." Well, from my keyboard to the Orioles' ears, because that's exactly what they did. Jeremy Guthrie pitched his second consecutive strong game, the Orioles offense was solid, and the defense was perfect as the Orioles beat the Twins 5-1 to end the road trip with a record of 4-5.
Tonight Jeremy Guthrie looked like the Guts that we saw in 2008 and it was a welcome sight. Guthrie has pitched good games this season, but he is rarely capable of pitching more than one in a row. Tonight he pitched 7 innings, allowing just 1 run on 6 hits. He struck out 5, walked 0 (just the third time this year), and didn't give up a home run for just the 7th time this year.
After giving up a leadoff single in the first inning, Guthrie retired the next ten in a row before allowing back-to-back hits to Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau in the 4th inning. Mauer scored the only Twins run on Morneau's double, but Jeremy shut it down, retiring the next 7 batters. Mauer broke up that streak with a two out single in the 6th inning, but Guthrie got Morneau to end the inning. Better pitchers than Guthrie have been foiled by Mauer/Morneau, and it was encouraging to see Guts pick right up where he left off after they got their hits in the 4th.
Guthrie went into the 7th inning with just 89 pitches and got into trouble for the first time in the game. After striking out Jason Kubel for the first out he surrendered singles to Michael Cuddyer and Delmon Young. Guthrie has been known to unravel this year, but not tonight. With two runners on and one out, he retired Brandon Harris and Alexi Casilla to get out of it unscathed. He finished the game with 112 pitches (72 strikes). The team needed Guthrie to step up and for once he did just that, with a little help from the defense.
Cesar Izturis was very impressive at shortstop tonight. He was involved in 7 plays and made multiple throws from deep in the hole. In the bottom of the 9th he expertly fielded a slow roller by Michael Cuddyer, bare handing it and just getting the out at first to end the game. Luke Scott, not known for his defense, had a very good play at first base on a grounder and made a very nice scoop on one of Izzy's long throws. Nolan Reimold made a nice play in the 7th, covering a lot of ground to catch the third out in shallow left near the foul line. Even that lollygagging, defensively challenged Brian Roberts made a few great defensive plays, including a ground ball in the 9th that was slowed down by Jim Johnson. Brian had to rush to the ball and make a quick throw, but made the out.
Offensively, the Orioles scored their five runs with a little bit of help from the Twins. In the first inning, Nolan Reimold came to bat with two outs and runners at 2nd and 3rd. He hit a grounder deep into the hole at SS and, in typical Reimold fashion, ran full speed towards first. It would have been a difficult play for Twins SS Orlando Cabrera, but in his haste to beat Reimold he threw the ball away. Izturis and Scott scored and Nolan went to 2nd on the error. Felix Pie, one of last night's goats, hit his 5th HR of the year in the 4th inning, a solo shot to right center.
Pie was on base again in the 6th via a walk when Chad Moeller knocked a double to left field. Pie, whose exuberance is exceeded only by his speed, scored from first on the play. The Orioles final run on the night came in the 8th inning when Chad Moeller again came to the plate with the bases loaded. Moeller took a 5 pitch walk to force in Nolan Reimold. The Orioles had a chance to really break it open, but Twins reliever Matt Guerrier retired Brian Roberts and Cesar Izturis on ground balls.
After Guthrie pitched his 7 innings, Danys Baez and Jim Johnson pitched the 8th and 9th innings respectively. Baez walked Denard Span to start the inning, although the AB was interrupted by a joker running onto the field. Other than that walk both Baez and Johnson were perfect, preserving the win for Jeremy Guthrie and sending the Orioles home on a good note.
Last night's game was a messy affair for both teams. The Orioles looked like hapless cellar dwellers and the Twins didn't look much better, despite being in a playoff race. Tonight the Orioles looked totally different; they came to play. It was evident from the get go, and it was fun to watch. The Twins, on the other hand, continued to look a little sloppy. From Cabrera's error in the first to yet another walked in run, they just didn't seem to have it together. They played a tighter game than yesterday, for sure, but the Twins organization and fans have to be disappointed that their team had a chance to gain a game on both Chicago and Detroit and weren't able to capitalize.
The Orioles are back home tomorrow against the Cleveland Indians. They have four against the Indians followed by three with the Yankees and three with the Rangers. It'll be a tough homestand with the O's trying to play the role of spoiler. Tomorrow's matchup is David Hernandez vs. Aaron Laffey.