The Orioles finally managed a win today as the return of Brian Matusz and the all-around outstanding play of Adam Jones were the major factors in the victory, along with a very good day by the O's bullpen.
Ah, victory. So this is what it feels like. I'd almost forgotten! I mean, the Orioles still only managed two runs and the offense looked totally anemic, but they did manage to avoid stupid mistakes for the most part (no one got thrown out going from second to third on a single to the outfield, for example) to hold on for the victory.
How about that Michael Pineda? He is some kind of pitcher. Consider me jealous. Pineda pitched six innings and allowed just one run. He struck out seven and walked one, giving up six hits, five of which were singles. In the second inning, J.J. Hardy homered off of Pineda for the only run he'd allow on the day. Hardy also homered off of Pineda in Baltimore, so I'm going to go ahead and declare J.J. Hardy to be Pineda's mortal enemy.
Other than the home run, Pineda allowed singles to Felix Pie in the first, Nolan Reimold in the second, Adam Jones in the third and sixth innings, and Hardy in the seventh. His only walk came to Reimold in the seventh, only the second inning that Pineda put more than one runner on in the same inning.
It was a big day for the Orioles, as young Brian Matusz finally made his first start of the season. And while he wasn't as dominant as we saw last year, for his first start back he looked plenty good to me. After a leadoff single by Ichiro Suzuki in the first, Matusz retired the next two batters, including a double play to end the inning. He allowed his only run in the second inning, as Miguel Olivo singled to lead off the inning, then tagged up and moved to second on a long fly ball to center field off the bat of Franklin Guttierez. A two-out single by Jack Wilson knocked in Olivo, tying the game at one, which is where it would stay until the eighth inning. Matusz pitched around another Ichiro single in the third, and pitched 1-2-3 innings in the fourth and fifth.
It's worth noting, because it's awesome, that Matusz's perfect fourth inning was due in large part to an absolutely amazing catch by Adam Jones. It was a full out sprinting, leaping, over-the-shoulder, crashing-into-the-wall, somersaulting catch, and I've watched it probably fifteen times. Do yourself a favor and check it out.
In the sixth inning, Matusz had an inning eerily like the eighth inning that Jeremy Guthrie pitched last night. He easily retired the first two batters, then the third reached on an error. This one was by third baseman Mark Reynolds, and unlike last night, it prompted Buck Showalter to remove the pitcher. Jim Johnson came on to get the final out, then pitched a scoreless seventh.
Mercifully, Pineda came out of the game in the eighth inning, and Adam Jones made the Mariners pay. After Pie struck out, Jones simply crushed a ball into the left field stands to make the score 2-1 in favor of the Orioles. And when I say left field stands, what I really mean is the left field second deck. It was just a monster home run, capping off an amazing day by Jones.
With the one-run lead, Showalter turned to Koji Uehara to hold the lead. Koji didn't allow a baserunner in an impressive outing that included a backwards K of one Ichiro Suzuki.
The Orioles went quietly in the ninth, with only Reimold reaching on a hit by pitch. That brought Kevin Gregg in for the save, and as all of Birdland held its breath, Gregg retired Justin Smoak on a strike out, Miguel Olivo on a ground out, and Franklin Guttierez on on a fly ball to center field. That secured the win for the Orioles, giving them a 1-5 road trip and sending them back to Baltimore on a good note.
Tomorrow is an off day, but the Orioles will be back in action at Camden Yards on Friday night against the Toronto Blue Jays. Zach Britton gets the ball for the Orioles, facing off against Carlos Villanueva. Wait, Brian Matusz and Zach Britton pitching back-to-back in the rotation? Swoon.