This is the part of the season that I kind of hate. I don't want to be accused of being too negative, but it can really wear on you to have to write about a team and just loses and loses and loses. Tonight's loss really sucked for a few reasons: the Orioles offense was shut down again, the spot start by Mitch Atkins was quite good and the Orioles wasted it, normally reliable Jim Johnson blew the game, and of course, the Orioles were winning for most of the game just to lose it late.
So, how about that Mitch Atkins? He had himself a heck of a first major-league start (it wasn't his major-league debut, that came pitching in relief for the Cubs in 2009). I tell you, Chris Waters would be so proud of him. Atkins allowed five singles through the first four innings, but no Rangers crossed the plate. He retired the side in order in the fifth, then allowed one run in the bottom of the sixth on a Nelson Cruz single. When it was all said and done, Atkins pitched six innings and allowed just one run on eight hits, all singles. He struck out four and didn't walk any. Against one of the better offenses in the league, Atkins held his own. It's a shame the Orioles couldn't do anything with it.
Both Oriole runs scored on home runs. The first came from J.J. Hardy in the top of the first inning. It was Hardy's thirteenth home run on the year as he continues to slaughter the baseball. The other home run came off the bat of Matt Wieters leading off the fourth inning. At that time that gave the O's a 2-0 lead, but everyone watching knew that two runs was probably not going to cut it.
Jim Johnson was called on to hold a slim 2-1 lead in the seventh inning. It was Johnson's thirty-eighth game of the year and he just didn't have it. He walked two of the first four batters he faced, retiring the other two. A single by Josh Hamilton combined with a throwing error from Nolan Reimold allowed both runners to score, then Hamilton scored on a double by Adrian Beltre. That gave the Rangers a 4-2 lead that they wouldn't relinquish.
It really stinks that the Orioles lost that way, but it's hard to get too down on JJ. He leads the team in appearances and for the most part gets the job done. He had a bad night tonight, but his defense let him down so only two of the runs were earned. You can't expect to win a game, especially a game against the Texas Rangers, with only two runs. The offense really needed to do more.
Anyway, Neftali Feliz shut down the Orioles in the ninth, handing them their seventh loss in their last eight games.