Game one of tonight's double header should have been an easy win by the O's as they knocked Jeremy Bonderman around for 9 runs in 4.1 innings in support of Chris Tillman who was, in a word, brilliant. The bullpen wasn't, however, as Mark Hendrickson and Matt Albers allowed five runs in the eighth and ninth innings to make the game a lot closer than it should have been. Ultimately the O's prevailed, 10-6, for their 64th win of the season.
Other than a few long fly balls, Tillman looked pretty good through the first few innings. Don Kelly (who?) hit his 8th HR of the year 404 feet onto the flag court and Brennan Boesch hit a very long fly ball that was just foul, but other than that he had few troubles, striking out three through three and hitting 93 mph a few times with his fastball.
The O's had no hits through the first three innings, although Luke Scott and Robert Andino both drew walks and were promptly eliminated on double play balls (Luke was wiped out on a ground ball by his bestie, Felix Pie, which is extra sad). Corey Patterson helped Jeremy Bonderman say good-bye to his no-no with a bunt single to lead off the fourth. It wasn't a very good bunt, but the one thing Corey is is fast. Of course, don't ask him to be fast in the outfield (he'll just fall down).
The bunt may have rattled Bonderman (or maybe he's just not any good) and he walked Nick Markakis on four pitches. Ty Wigginton grounded slowly to shortstop, too slow for the double play, and Bonderman hit Luke with a pitch to load the bases. This time his partner in bromance got the job done, hitting a long fly ball off the Geico sign to score Patterson. The runners had to hold up as it looked like Boesch might catch it and Felix settled for a single. Adam Jones, however, did not. He turned on an 80 mph slider and put it inside the third base bag for a bases clearing double.
This angered Jeremy Bonderman, so he got to work picking on someone not his own size. He hit Robert Andino on the hand with a pitch, prompting Craig Tatum to say, "No bullying!" and hit a long fly ball in the left-center field gap. It was hit well, it looked like it...could it be....finally....a tater from Tatum? Would he hit his first home run with me sitting in the press box where I couldn't yell in my best John Sterling voice, "IT'S A TATER! FROM TATUM?" Alas, it didn't quite have the distance and bounced on the warning track for a double to score Jones and Andino. Izzy and Corey were retired to end the inning, but the O's had taken away Bonderman's no-no, shut out, and lead with a six run fourth.
With a comfortable lead, Tillman settled in. He had retired the side in order on three ground balls in the fourth and he repeated the performance in the fifth, barely giving Bonderman time to breathe before he had to again face the mighty Orioles lineup.
Nicky started things off with a sharp ground ball that deflected off the second baseman's glove, and after Wiggy popped up on the first pitch the fun began again. The Tigers appeared to want absolutely no part of Luke Scott (and can you blame them?) as Bonderman walked him for the second time of the day. That put two on for Felix, who again hit the ball with authority, this time to the right-center gap to score both runners. I thought it would be a double but Felix flew into third with his fifth triple on the year. That made the score 8-1 and Jim Leyland had finally seen enough of Jeremy Bonderman.
With one down and Pie on third, Eddie Bonine came in to face Adam Jones. Jonesy again went to left field, this time for an easy single to score Felix. That closed the book on Bonderman with an ugly line of 4.1 IP, 6 H, 9 ER, 4 BB, 1 K, HBP. Andino grounded into the Orioles third double play of the game to end the inning, but Tillman now had an eight run lead to work with.
It was more than he needed as he cruised through the sixth and seventh innings and, after 102 pitches, was finished for the season. He allowed just three hits with seven strikeouts and two walks. It was his most dominant start of the season and frankly just plain good to see. Chris Tillman did it! He made me not annoyed to look at him!
With Tillman out of the game, the Orioles pitching fell apart in the 8th. Felix Pie misplayed a fly ball in left for a double, and new pitcher Mark Hendrickson walked the next batter and allowed a single up the middle to load the bases with no outs. That brought out ol' Kranwich for a chat, and it...didn't really work. The next batter, Johnny Damon (who ruined some poor sap in the stands' fantasy team), lined out to Felix in left, but then Hendo walked in a run and gave up a single to make the score 9-3. Thanks for nothing, Hendo!
Matt Albers came in to clean up his mess, but he wasn't exactly successful. Jhonny (sp) Peralta grounded to second but there was no chance for a double play and another run scored, followed by an RBI single to right field by Boesch. Scott Sizemore stepped in for his second at-bat of the day (having replaced Brandon Inge at 3B) and mercifully he struck out looking to end the Tigers threat, but not before they'd fought back to make the score 9-5.
The O's got one back in the bottom of the inning when Jones doubled and scored on a single by Tatum. Quite a game by Tater Tot! Albers wasn't interested in ending the game in a timely fashion, though, as he gave up another run in the 9th, prompting Buck to get Koji to warm in the bullpen. He wasn't needed, as finally ended the game by retiring Ryan Rayburn
It wasn't pretty there in the end, but the O's got the win. And it was pretty fun. So fun, in fact, that I think we should play another one. See you in a few minutes!