In the opening to today's game thread, I challenged the baseball gods to show us what they had. The storyline could allow nothing other than an Orioles victory over the Twins, but with Jo-Jo Reyes starting the game and the day-game forfeit lineup in full effect, they had some work to do. As Birdland continued to try to come to grips with the loss of Mike Flanagan, the baseball gods delivered in this small way.
Reports came out during the game, though not relayed by MASN (a fair omission) that the medical examiner has ruled the death a suicide, making a sad story even sadder. We needed the little favor of a win today, and we got it.
The name of Francisco Liriano, who started the game for the Twins, was once a feared one, but he simply hasn't been that pitcher this year. Not that you ever know what you're going to get from the O's against a lefty. That turned out not to matter. Liriano exited after only two innings due to what is reported as a left shoulder strain. That left a parade of Twins relievers to pitch the bulk of the game's innings. The damage was done in the sixth and seventh innings, with two runs being driven in on a Craig Tatum double and three runs coming in on a Mark Reynolds home run.
We were promised home runs, and it was the 29th of the year for Reynolds. That's more homers than anyone playing for the O's has hit since Aubrey Huff had 32 in 2008. Beyond that is Miguel Tejada with 34 bombs in 2004, and beyond that is the late 90s.
In all, O's batters had eleven hits, with multi-hit games coming from Vladimir Guerrero (a seeing-eye grounder and a bloop single; he was batting cleanup), Nolan Reimold, and Ryan Adams (who added a walk). Matt Angle, starting in the game to give a rest to Adam Jones, got his first MLB hit on a bunt single and also drew a walk.
Reyes wasn't exactly anyone's idea of dazzling as he faced the Twins' hitters. It's worth noting that the Twins have pretty much the second-worst hitting in the AL. Reyes gave up five hits and four walks over six innings, only striking out three batters. For all that, he only surrendered a single run when Justin Morneau doubled in Trevor Plouffe, who reached base on a single.
Chris Jakubauskas pitched a relatively calm 7th and 8th, and even Kevin Gregg only allowed a single base hit in the 9th to close out the sweep. In winning these four games, the O's outscored Minnesota by a margin of 24-4, with the Twins never scoring more than one run in any of the games. Thanks to this series, the worst run differential in the AL now belongs to the Twins instead of the Orioles.
Enjoy the good feelings while they last, because New York is coming to town for a scheduled five game series across four days. Hurricane Irene is also coming into the area, so the Saturday night and Sunday games' status may be up in the air. Tommy Hunter and A.J. Burnett are currently scheduled to be the starters in the opener at 7:05 tomorrow.
For those who weren't able to watch the broadcast today, MASN closed out each inning with a quiet picture of Flanagan and a large crowd from the Memorial Stadium days, with snippets of quotes from various players and journalists who knew him over the years. It was a nice little tribute, and for a further tribute, MASN will be airing the final game from Memorial Stadium at 10:30pm tonight and tomorrow night.
In short, the Orioles needed a win today as much as any non-contending team has ever needed a win. The baseball gods delivered the Twins. The script wrote itself.