The Orioles won their second consecutive game tonight against the Twins, securing just their second non-losing series since June 28th when they began a series with the St. Louis Cardinals. Their other non-loss was happened July 14-17 when they split a four-game series with the Cleveland Indians. If, by some miracle, the Orioles can win tomorrow or Thursday, they will secure their first series win since taking two out of three from the Cincinnati Reds way back on June 24-26.
But back to tonight's game. The story of the night had to be Alfredo Simon. To say that Simon has struggled lately would be kind, as in his last three starts he's pitched 15.2 innings while allowing 16 runs (13 earned) with just 7 strikeouts and five walks. In those three starts the opposing offenses have hit .408/.443/.761. Ouch.
Tonight, though, Simon was brilliant. Sure, the Twins offense isn't the most fearsome the Orioles have faced this year, but I don't want to discount how well he pitched by saying that. He was great. Simon cruised through seven of the eight innings he pitched. He had five three-up, three-down innings, and another in which he faced only three batters thanks to a gunned down runner courtesy of Matt Wieters.
The only run Simon allowed was on a solo home run from Danny Valencia leading off the third inning. Luke Hughes (Coming To Dinner) followed that with a double, and it looked like Simon might have been about to cough up a good portion of the lead the Orioles had handed him. Luckily that wasn't the case thanks to a heads up play by Mark Reynolds and some poor base running by Hughes. Ben Revere grounded out to first base and Hughes broke late for the plate. Reynolds fired home to start a run down with Hughes eventually being tagged out by Simon at the plate to end the inning.
Simon's final line: 8 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 K. Bravo, Alfredo.
Of course, as evidenced by the eight spot they put up, the O's offense had a pretty good night as well. Vladimir Guerrero started the second inning with a grounder back up the middle that Twins starter Brian Duensing got a hand on, but he couldn't make the play. He tried, though, and threw the ball into the camera well. Vlad was credited with a single and the error on the pitcher allowed him to move to second base. Duensing then threw a wild pitch to move Vlad to third where he scored easily on a double from Matt Wieters.
(Wieters had himself quite a night. In addition to throwing a runner out and hitting the double, he walked four times. Seriously. That'll help the old on-base percentage.)
Reynolds followed Wieters with an infield single, and both runners strolled home two batters later when Nolan Reimold homered to give the O's a 4-0 lead.
The O's came right back after poor Duensing in the third inning. Because they batted around in the second, Vlad again led off. This time he doubled to left field, and after Wieters walked, Reynolds hit a drive to the right-center field gap. To let you know how far the ball was hit, Wieters scored from first (I know!). Reynolds then scored on a single from Robert Andino and the Orioles were ahead 7-0.
The offense topped off its night with one more run in the fifth inning. Again, it was the Vlad and Matty and Mark show. Vlad singled (or "singled" because come on, Joe Mauer, you should catch that pop up), and Matt walked. Reynolds singled again, knocking in Vladdy.
The Orioles sometimes get good pitching, and they sometimes get good hitting. They rarely get both in the same game (that's why they're 28 games below .500), so tonight's game was a pleasure to watch. Tomorrow night Jeremy Guthrie will make his first start since August 13th as the O's try to win a series for the first time since the Clinton Administration. It could happen!