The good news about today's game is that the Orioles finally snapped the streak of sixteen straight games where they failed to score in the first inning. The bad news about today's game is everything else.
Matched up against the Blue Jays' Jo-Jo Reyes, fresh off a record-tying streak of 28 straight starts without a win, Jeremy Guthrie just didn't bring his best stuff to the ballpark today. He came into the game with the lowest walk rate for a starter in the majors, but he walked three men in only five innings pitched, and also gave up nine hits, including two home runs. Amazingly, neither of these were to Jose Bautista, who took an 0-for-3 with two walks to have his OBP sink below .500 to .498.
Once again, the O's found themselves in a hole before they even came to the plate. Guts got two quick outs, but then walked Bautista and gave up a single to left by Adam Lind. With two outs and a full count, Bautista was running hard on the pitch and when left fielder Nolan Reimold didn't charge the ball, Bautista took third base, allowing him to score on Aaron Hill's single. Hill was caught in a rundown and tagged out to end the inning.
The Orioles tied and took the lead in the bottom of the first, bringing an end to the first-inning futility. Robert Andino led off with a single. Whenever the Orioles get a leadoff man on, you always kind of wonder how they will strand him, and when Nick Markakis was retired on a soft fly ball I was waiting for the GIDP. Instead, Adam Jones grounded a single through the SS-3B hole. Vladimir Guerrero stepped up to the plate and ripped a ball to left field that bounced into the seats: Andino scored and Jones took third, where he scored on a Derrek Lee groundout.
Staked to a lead, Guthrie couldn't do much with it. Edwin Encarnacion was dialed in against him (over a .500 average in his career against Guthrie) and so was Adam Lind, who had a 4-for-4 day. Lind tied the score with an RBI single in the third and the Orioles were sent into a 5-2 hole with a three-run home run by Yunel Escobar in the fourth inning. That felt like the ballgame; there was no way the limp bats were getting out of that. Lind hit a solo homer in the fifth to make it even worse.
For a little extra indignity, Orioles pitchers walked Jose Molina twice today - that would be one of the Flying Molina Bros. Molinas, who happens to sport a career on-base percentage of .284, so he's a perfect guy to walk. Molina also stole second base, which I think may be one of the things that is supposed to trigger ritual suicide.
A nice scoring opportunity presented itself in the bottom of the fifth inning, as a Craig Tatum single and an Andino double gave the O's runners on second and third with only one out. Markakis hit a sac fly to score Tatum, but that was all the O's could get out of it. A pair of walks in the sixth inning were wiped out by a GIDP from Mark Reynolds.
Alfredo Simon got three innings of work, and he wasn't bad. He allowed another solo home run to Lind and avoided any further damage. The fact that Simon appeared in this game probably means we can look forward to a spot start by Chris Jakubauskas on Tuesday. This is equivalent to looking forward to a prostate exam.
Michael Gonzalez pitched the ninth, and since it didn't matter whatsoever how he pitched, he did not give up any home runs or hit anyone in the face. In fact, he had a 1-2-3 inning. His ERA on the season is now 7.36.
Reynolds came in with an Eff You Home Run with one out in the bottom of the 9th to take the score to 7-4. Felix Pie, hitting for Reimold, grounded out, bringing the Orioles to their last out. Pinch-hitter Matt Wieters (for Tatum) worked a walk, bringing up Andino, who worked the count full before being called out by the home plate umpire on a pitch six inches outside. It's not like the O's would have won the game anyway, but Andino earned that walk and he wasn't given it.
It was a lazy effort on a Sunday and I hope there are some fires lit before the team takes the field again. Aside from the demerit for Nolan for the low-octane throw in the OF, there was a Jones liner that he didn't run out because he assumed it would be caught; Escobar couldn't glove it and it fell in and Jones may have been safe had he been running, but he wasn't.
Oakland comes into town tomorrow and we will once again be matched up with Gio Gonzalez. This time, the Orioles can counter with their own promising young lefty, Brian Matusz, who'll be making his second start of the year.