The Orioles and Red Sox played their third extra innings game of the season and the outcome was the same as the first two: an Orioles win. Kevin Millwood pitched a fantastic game but was unfortunately matched at every turn by Josh Beckett. The teams went into extra innings with the game tied 2-2, where the Orioles hottest hitter, Ty Wigginton, lined a single to center field, scoring Nick Markakis for the Orioles second walk off win of the series.
If anyone out there needs any more proof that a pitcher's win count is useless in determining how well he has pitched, look no further than Kevin Millwood. Again he had an outstanding day and again he did not receive a win. The Mentor gave the Orioles 8 strong innings with the only damage from the Red Sox being two solo home runs. Jason Varitek got to him in the 5th and J.D. Drew, who just murdered the Orioles this series, hit one in the 7th. In Millwood's post game interview he said he left three balls up all day: two were hit for home runs and one was caught at the wall.
Millwood did have a scare in the 8th inning when, with two outs and runners on first and second, Dustin Pedroia singled into left field. Reimold fielded the ball in shallow left and for reasons unknown to everyone except the third base coach, Varitek attempted to score from second base. Reimold's throw beat Varitek by about 30 feat and the captain allowed Craig Tatum to tag him, not even attempting a slide. That ended the top of the 8th inning and Millwood's day.
Unfortunately for the Orioles, they didn't have any more success against Beckett than the Red Sox did against Millwood. The Orioles scored both of their runs in the fourth. Nick Markakis led off the inning with a single and moved to second when Beckett hit Wigginton for the second time in the game. Miguel Tejada followed with a single to right, loading the bases. After a Luke Scott strike out, Nolan Reimold hit a chopper to third, far enough inside the baseline that Adrian Beltre couldn't touch third and throw to first for the double play. Wiggy smartly stopped running so that Beltre wouldn't be able to tag him and still get Reimold at first. After Markakis had scored and Reimold was safe at first, Wiggy moved towards third and allowed Beltre to tag him. Good move by the Wiggster (take note, Matt Wieters). With runners at 1st and 2nd and two outs, Rhyne Hughes doubled in Miggi for the O's second run.
With the game tied at 2 going into the bottom of the 8th inning, both teams starters were finished. Daniel Bard took over for Beckett in the bottom of the 8th and things got off to a promising start. Adam Jones and Markakis singled to start things off and then Dave Trembley inexplicably had Ty Wigginton bunt. Wiggy, who hit two home runs last night and who has 8 on the year. Wiggy, who has been the Orioles best hitter this year and whose OPS+ coming into the game was a cool 202. Wiggy did as he was told and moved the runners to second and third. So many things wrong with this.
First of all, the go ahead run was already in scoring position. That's what 2nd base is. Second of all, as I already said, Wiggy has been the best hitter on the team and making him bunt takes the bat out of his hands. Not only that, but it takes the bat out of Miggi's hands as the Red Sox obviously intentionally walked him, and following Miggi in the lineup are Luke Scott and Nolan Reimold, both of whom have been having their troubles, to say the least. So with one out and bases loaded, Luke and Nolan both struck out, ending the inning. If the Orioles had gone on to lose I would have been livid at the decision to bunt Wiggy. Since they won, I'm irritated but not dwelling.
Will Ohman pitched the 9th inning and, after allowing a leadoff single to Drew, struck out the next two Red Sox. With two outs and Matt Albers warming up, Diamond Dave emerged from the dugout. Before I had time to get too angry, Ohman and Trembley had a brief exchange and Trembley left Ohman on the mound. After the game Ohman said that he was ready to plead his case to stay in but all Trembley said was "get this guy." So either Ohman was being nice or Trembley had a change of heart. Either way, the decision to stick with Ohman was a good one as he struck out Adrian Beltre to end the inning.
Jonathan Papelbon came on in the 9th and other than a pinch hit double by Matt Wieters, he had no troubles. He wouldn't be so lucky in the bottom of the 10th, however. He walked Markakis to lead off the inning and then threw the ball away on a pickoff attempt, allowing Nick to advance to second base. Wigginton had a great at bat against Papelbon, fouling off the first five pitches he saw. On the sixth pitched he lined a ball to left center out of the reach of Darnell McDonald. Markakis scored easily from second to give the O's their 7th win of the year, 4th against the Red Sox, and the sweep. Hooray! They are riding a high into New York and hopefully will be able to take a few there as well.