The Baltimore Orioles gloriously won their baseball game today, freeing them from the tyranny of being swept by the Red Sox. Is that too much? While most of America and most Oriole fans, for that matter, were in their back yards or doing something otherwise festive, the Orioles ended up playing one of their better games of the year. It featured a great pitching performance by Brian Matusz, Nick Markakis contributing three hits to help defeat John Lackey, and a not-disappointing Matt Wieters off-day (Tatum was 0-3 anyway).
The game began at 1:35 and the Orioles quickly went down one two three, with Corey Patterson and Miguel Tejada striking out and Markakis working the count but grounding to third. John Lackey was certainly looking like the same pitcher that has gone 9-3 over the Orioles in his career. In the bottom of the frame, Brian Matusz matched his contemporary by retiring the side in order and striking out Marco Scutaro and David Ortiz, swinging. The pitchers then went out for a repeat performance in the second inning. Honestly, it looked like a familiar scenario where Matusz pitches a quality start yet doesn't get nearly enough run support to get a win (or avoid a loss, who am I kidding here?). The Orioles threatened in the top of the third with consecutive two-out singles by Izturis and Patterson. Patterson stole second but Tejada grounded out to end the inning. In the bottom of the third, Bill Hall ended Brian's bid for a no-hitter with a single to left. Matusz then showed his first sign of wildness on the day by hitting the guy who hit the first major league pitch he saw for a grand slam. But with nobody out, Matusz retired the next three Red Sox to get out of the inning.
The Orioles took the lead, and basically won the game, in the fourth inning. Nick Markakis hit a ball to the green monster for a lead off, stand-up double. Wigginton got him over on a groundout. During Adam Jones' at bat, Lackey threw a wild pitch to allow Markakis to score. The Orioles didn't really "need" the wild pitch though, because Adam Jones came through with a single. Josh Bell followed with his second of three strikouts, but then Scott Moore came through with a single up the middle. It allowed Adam Jones to come all the way around to score and Moore to get to second. It proved to be all the Orioles needed because Brian Matusz pitched something pretty close to a gem. That hit in the third inning? That was one of just two allowed over 7 IP. He allowed a double to Adrian Beltre in the bottom of the 4th, but struck out Drew and got David Ortiz to fly out. Matusz was showing a little bit more wildness than normal by walking 3 and hitting a batter. But his 8 strikeouts made up for it pretty well. He came back in for the seventh to retire the side in order with no strikouts. At the end of his day, he had thrown 111 pitches. 8Ks, 3 BBs, 0 R
The Orioles scored insurance runs in the top of the eighth for Brian, both of them getting charged to John Lackey. B2B scored Izturis on a triple that JD Drew lost in the sun and Markakis drove in B2B on a single. At that point, I just wanted the Orioles to get the last 6 outs, much like how I want to finish writing this article. I guess what we can take from this game is that Brian Matusz is a very fine young pitcher, and for today at least, on Independence Day, the Orioles scored enough runs for him to win. Berken got 4 outs. Ohman got 1 out. And then Simon got a walk and the final out. I didn't write about the Orioles last 2 runs or Youkilis' home run. But that's okay. It's the fourth of July.
Michael Dwyer - AP
about 2 hours ago: Baltimore Orioles' Brian Matusz pauses between pitches in the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox, Sunday, July 4, 2010, in Boston. The Orioles won 6-1. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)