Jeremy Guthrie was outstanding tonight, and thanks to that and some opportune home runs, the Orioles won their first series against an AL East opponent since May of this year. The Rays came into Baltimore needing a series win to try and close the gap between themselves and the Red Sox in the wild card race, but they were not successful.
Guts cruised through the first three innings, facing just one batter more than the minimum. Meanwhile, Rays starter Wade Davis was working in and out of trouble. A(nother) Vladimir Guerrero double play saved him in the first inning, when he put two runners on with one out, and Nolan Reimold led off the bottom of the third inning with his tenth home run of the season.
Staked to a lead, Guts couldn't hold it (as is often the case). He lost control and walked two batters, both of whom scored on a double from Matt Joyce. That made the score 2-1, but the Orioles jumped right back on Davis in the bottom of the inning. Vlad led off with an infield single, followed by a double by Matt Wieters. That put two on for Chris Davis, who proved he does have some use with a home run to center field. Well done, Chris Davis! The bomb put the O's back on top, 4-2.
Guthrie went on cruise control through the fifth and sixth innings without allowing a baserunner. He walked another in the seventh and gave up a single, but got out of the inning with no runs scored. Guthrie came out of the game after seven innings with a pitching line of 7 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 10 K. Truly a great night from Jeremy Guthrie.
After the Chris Davis home run, Wade Davis also settled down. He didn't allow another run, exiting with one out in the seventh inning. He was replaced by top prospect Matt Moore, making his major league debut. Moore's pitches were nasty and he easily retired Robert Andino and Matt Angle.
Moore started the eighth inning and struck out J.J. Hardy and Nick Markakis, almost entirely on fastballs which were hitting 96 and 97 mph. He got J.J. swinging, though, on an 87 mph changeup. Dirty, Matt Moore.
But he is, after all, a rookie, and after Vlad got to him for a single, Moore had to face Matt Wieters. Wieters is on fire right now, and he welcome the rookie to the big leagues with a home run on the first pitch he threw. That increased the O's lead to 6-2 and gave them some breathing room. The home run was Matt's 20th on the year, a nice milestone. He's hit 10 left-handed and 10 right-handed.
The only pitcher out of the bullpen tonight was Jim Johnson, who pitched two innings and allowed just one baserunner on walk. He sat the Rays down 1-2-3 in the ninth with two ground outs and a line out to left. JJ!
It's an off day tomorrow, then the Angels come to town for three games beginning Friday.