Going into this game I thought the O's had very little chance to win. Carl Pavano has gotten off to a great start this season; four of his five starts have been very good. The Orioles already have trouble scoring runs these days and facing Pavano wasn't going to help in that regard. Add to that the Orioles starter, Brad Bergesen, and the way he's been knocked around this year, and let's just say my confidence level wasn't high.
It turns out I was half right in my fears. Pavano was great tonight, allowing 6 hits against 8 strikeouts and 3 walks in 8 innings. Fortunately for the Orioles, one of those hits was Ty Wigginton's 10th home run of the year. In the second inning, after a leadoff single by Miguel Tejada, Pavano threw a pitch to Wiggy that crossed the plate about belt high and just a little inside. Wiggy turned on it and launched it into the left field seats. It was a no doubter off the bat. Wiggy continues to impress.
Like so many other times this season, those two runs would be the only ones that the Orioles would score. Pavano dominated them for the next 6 innings with a little help from three more Oriole double plays (honors go to Matt Wieters, Nolan Reimold, and Ty Wigginton). The O's now lead the league in double plays. Good job, guys!
Thankfully Brad Bergesen decided that tonight would be the night that he remembered how to pitch. He looked like 2009 Bergy, pitching fast and to contact. He didn't strike anyone out, but his pitches were sinking to the tune of 15 ground balls in 6.2 innings. He cruised into the 7th inning and got the first two outs before allowing a single to Denard Span just out of Wiggy's reach. He then induced a ground ball to first but Rhyne Hughes botched it to keep the inning alive. With the go ahead run coming to the plate in the person of Justin Morneau, Trembley took Bergesen out of the game. A good decision, I think, and a very fine outing by 3E1N.
Will Ohman relieved Bergesen and quickly got Morneau to an 0-2 count before throwing him four straight balls, each pitch worse than the one before it. That loaded the bases for Jim Thome (who happens to be my second favorite Dugout character ever after Kyle Farnsworth). You wouldn't be an Orioles fan if you didn't immediately imagine Thome hitting a bomb to give the Twins the lead. 569 career home runs plus the Orioles bullpen is a scary thing, but the O Man shut it down as Thome went down swinging. Ol' Jim Jam will have to try again tomorrow.
The 8th inning marked the triumphant return of Koji Uehara. Koji pitched just the way we remembered, easily retiring the side in order. If he can stay healthy, Koji will be absolutely great for this team. Alfredo Simon came on to pitch the 9th inning and went to a full count on Alexi Casilla before inducing a ground out. The next two batters had no such drama. Simon quickly retired both to earn his third save.
O's win their 8th of the year. Lucky number 8! The weather forecast in the Twin Cities tomorrow is pretty brutal, but if they do get a game in, it will be Kevin Millwood vs. Francisco Liriano. I'd say the Mentor doesn't have much chance against Liriano, who has been phenomenal this season, but after tonight I'll believe anything.