The Orioles offense, which has finally started showing signs of life, saved the team from another bad outing by Kevin Millwood. They scored nine runs, all but one of which was on the long ball. They also showed patience at the plate with six walks, three of which came around to score. It was a great night to be at Camden Yards and easily the most enjoyable game I've been to this season.
Kevin Millwood, who has really started to stumble after a strong start to the season, had another rough time tonight. He got through the first three innings of the game unscathed but his luck ran out in the fourth. That inning was actually kind of a nightmare. It started with an error by Miguel Tejada and included another error (by Corey Patterson), four hits, a walk, and a three run home run. Oh, and Mark Ellis stole home when Matt Wieters threw to second base to get a runner who was safe no matter what because the batter walked. It was a long, torturous inning. Millwood completed the fifth inning without any further embarrassment, but that would be it for him. In six starts in June, Millwood pitched at least six innings only once.
The bullpen was called upon once again to pitch almost half of the game, and again they got the job done. Mark Hendrickson followed Millwood with a perfect sixth inning, but was inexplicably pulled for Matt Albers after allowing a leadoff single in the seventh. Albers had his troubles, walking Suzuki with one out, but got out of the jam when Tejada started a very nifty double play. The final two innings were pitched by Will Ohman (0.1 IP), David Hernandez (0.2 IP), and Alfredo Simon (1.0 IP). It was a few more relievers than I preferred to see, but it worked out as the A's did not score again.
The O's offense had already gotten things started when Kevin Millwood and the defense had their unfortunate six run inning. Luke Scott walked to lead off the second inning and scored when Adam Jones hit an opposite field home run that bounced off the top of the scoreboard and into the flag court. It was Adam's thirteenth home run of the year and the beginning of a big night. The Luke and Adam team struck again in the third inning. Luke walked again and this time Adam Jones doubled him home to make the score 3-0.
After that, it was all about the power. Corey Patterson, whose offensive performance might have earned him an MBP nomination if not for his error in the field and his caught stealing, hit a solo home run to the bleachers in the bottom of the fourth. That brought the Orioles to within two runs at 6-4, and that's where it would stay until the bottom of the seventh. Nick Markakis walked with one out (Markakis Walk Watch: 47; On pace for 98) and first baseman Ty Wigginton, who hadn't homered since 22 May, crushed a ball to left field. It was a no doubter off the bat that tied the ballgame. I mention that Wiggy was playing first because that happens to be the first home run hit by an Oriole first baseman this season. On June 30th. Try not to think about it.
Luke Scott came to the plate after Wiggy's home run looking to get a hit. He'd already taken three walks on the day and it was obvious he was anxious to swing the bat. It worked out pretty well as he ALSO hit a home run to left field. It was a costly hit, though, as Luke pulled up lame rounding first and barely made it to home plate, practically hopping on one leg. Although it's not definite, it does appear that Luke will be headed to the disabled list. It's pretty lousy timing as Luke had just started heating up, not to mention the Orioles will face the Tigers for the first time this year next week (in case you forgot).
Luke's home run gave the Orioles a one run lead, but they weren't finished. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Patterson singled (his third hit of the game) and was on base when Tejada joined in on the fun with his sixth home run of the year. The home run gave the O's a three run lead, which made me feel a lot better going into the ninth with Alfredo Simon.
Simon was on, though. He struck out Coco Crisp on three pitches to start the inning. Daric Barton then got a hold of a 96 mph fastball and launched it to right center, but Markakis made a fantastic running catch (his second defensive gem of the day). With two down and the smallish crowd of 21,392 on its feet, Simon threw seven straight fastballs to Rajai Davis. All clocked between 95 and 97 on the radar gun and finally, on the seventh pitch, Davis hit a ground ball to third that Tejada fielded cleanly (although I know I was holding my breath) for the final out of the game.