The Orioles offense did a 180 from the first game of this doubleheader, scoring just two runs despite thirteen hits. Hitting into forty-seven double plays will do that to a team, I suppose. Luckily for the Orioles, Jeremy Guthrie was on point. He was straight up fantastic, pitching 8 shutout innings with just two hits, a walk, and five strikeouts. His performance compensated for the awful defense and offense tonight and frankly, he's the reason they won.
Guts looked fantastic in the first inning, needing just eleven pitches to retire the side in order. He gave up a leadoff single to left field to Ryan Raburn in the second, but retired the next three with no trouble. In fact, he cruised through the first six innings despite a bevy of defensive miscues. In the third, Will Rhymes (my favorite baseball player name that starts with Will this side of Will Startup) reached on an error by the second baseman. In the fourth, Raburn got on base thanks to an error by shortstop Robert Andino. And after a miraculous error free fifth inning, Brandon Snyder dropped a pop up in foul territory for the third O's error of the night. Luckily Guts came back to strike out the batter, so perhaps young Brandon was simply being generous in allowing Guts a chance to pad his stats.
The Orioles made some noise in the bottom of the first but ultimately came up empty. Adam Jones got a lucky infield single with two down in front of Jake Fox, who lined a single up the middle. Matt Wieters, who didn't start in the first game, worked a 3-1 count but struck out to end the inning. They added two more hits in the second by Andino and Josh Bell but again came up empty. Finally in the third they got on the board as Nick Markakis hit his 11th home run of the year. It was a beautiful shot to right-center and gave the O's a 1-0 lead that they clung to into the late innings.
It wasn't lack of baserunners that proved to be the Orioles issue tonight but rather the double play. They grounded into three double plays in the first game of the evening and kept the trend going in the night cap. In the fourth inning, Andino singled with one out but Josh Bell GIDP'd to end the inning. And in the fifth, after a leadoff single by Brandon Snyder, it was the O's backup second baseman who did the same.
In the sixth the Orioles got runners on first and second with one down after Porcello gave up a single to Adam Jones and hit Matt Wieters with a pitch. Could they do it again? Hit into another double play? If you guessed yes, a winner is you! Nolan Reimold hit a ground ball to second for the O's third double play in as many innings. How embarrassing.
Thanks to all of the double play action, Guthrie went into the seventh one home run (which he tends to give up) from a tie game. He didn't let it bother him, however, retiring the side in order, punctuated by a nice snag on a ball back up the middle that he tossed to Snyder at first for the final out. That Guthrie, what an athlete!
Robert Andino led off the 8th with his third hit of the night. I quick wrote Josh Bell a note and made it into a paper airplane and flew it down to Bell. Here is what it said:
Dear Josh Bell,
If you think you might hit in to a double play, just do us all a favor and strike out.
Well, Josh didn't do what I asked, but he at least didn't ground into a double play. He grounded to second but not hard enough to turn two. It's not a hit, but given the last three innings, I appreciated it. Next to bat was Brandon Snyder and he kick started a little rally with a single to left. Andino made it to third and scored easily on a single by the leadoff hitter as Snyder moved to second. Nicky chased the starter Porcello from the game with a single up the middle that was hit too hard to score the runner at second.
New pitcher Ryan Perry came in to face Adam Jones with the bases loaded and one out. It occurred to me that this would be the most painful time for the O's fourth double play of the game, and you know what? That is just what happened THANKS TO ADAM JONES BEING A LOLLY GAGGER.
It was a tailor-made double play ball to second, for sure, but the first baseman dropped the ball on the throw. Adam had stopped running however, so he hadn't crossed first base yet. If he'd kept running the inning would still be going. Good job, Adam. Well done.
Still, the O's now had a two run lead for Guthrie, who entered the 8th inning with 95 pitches. He was on cruise control and easily retired the side in order to complete eight shutout innings. Excellent, excellent job by Guthrie.
Jake Fox led off the eighth inning by getting hit. Those Tigers sure do love to hit batters, don't they? Where is Joe Girardi when you need him? After a strike out and ground out that put Fox on second with two outs, Robert Andino lined the ball back up the middle for his fourth hit of the day. Andino! He's totally in there for his bat. For reasons undetermined, Fox was sent home and thrown out by a mile to end the inning.
9th inning, two run lead. You know what that means. KOJI! KOJI! KOJI!
Kojiburns retired the first batter, Brennan Boesch, on a ground ball to first. That's not what we want from Koji. We want strike outs! He was more than happy to deliver with a K of Ryan Raburn, but then the fierce Don Kelly struck again for his second home run in as many games. That's ok, Koji! You still have a lead. Back in the saddle! Wait...back in the saddle doesn't mean a single to Brandon Inge!
The Koji chants started up at Camden Yards. The fans still had faith. Would Koji reward them? Strike one to Casper Wells. Strike two to Casper Wells. STRIKE THREE TO CASPER WELLS AND THE ORIOLES WIN!
Guts with the win, Nicky with the HR, Koji with the save. And with that, the Orioles have officially passed their 2009 win total. We'll see you tomorrow, folks!