The Orioles tonight continued their role of spoiler, beating a team that's trying to capture a spot in the playoffs for the third straight game. There has been much made in the press of how the team is not interested in hearing about being spoilers, and honestly I don't care either. I just want them to win. And they did just that tonight behind a strong effort from Tommy Hunter and an offense that beat up on the very talented Dan Haren.
Hunter sailed through the first three innings, allowing just a single to Alberto Callaspo in the second and a double in the third to Erick Aybar. He finished the third inning with 43 pitches, nine of which were thrown to Howie Kendrick with two outs in the third. Kendrick ultimately struck out.
After two innings of Dan Haren pitching as Dan Haren does, the Orioles struck for two runs in the bottom of the third. Nolan Reimold, a late addition to the lineup after Adam Jones was scratched, started the inning with a walk and then stole second base. Robert Andino singled him in for the first run, and after Andino moved to third on a bunt and a wild pitch, he scored on a ground out by J.J. Hardy.
Armed with a two-run lead, Hunter got himself into trouble in the top of the fourth. Bobby Abreu singled on a bunt, but then forgot that you don't run on Matt Wieters. It was so far from being a close play that Abreu didn't even make it all the way to second base. The caught stealing turned out to be big as Torii Hunter and Callaspo singled in the inning, but Hunter struck out Vernon Wells to end the inning.
After a 1-2-3 fourth inning, the Orioles were back in action in the fifth. Mark Reynolds fulfilled his promise, launching his 33rd home run of the year deep to left field. After Andino and Matt Angle reached base (Angle on an error), Hardy doubled to left, knocking both of them in.
That made the 5-0 in favor of the O's, and Hunter cruised on, allowing a single in the fifth and pitching a 1-2-3 sixth inning.
Knowing that the Hunter has trouble once he reaches the seventh inning, his teammates decided to put the game out of reach in the bottom of the sixth. After a single from Chris Davis, Reynolds doubled to put two runners in scoring position. Tyler Chatwood replaced Haren and threw a wild pitch that allowed Davis to score. I continue to laugh at the fact that there is a baseball player named Tyler Chatwood. That sounds like the fellow I'm meeting for high tea tomorrow, not a professional athlete. Anyway, after the wild pitch, Chatwood made the mistake of hanging a curveball to Reimold, who hammered it to left field for a two-run homer.
Hunter returned for the seventh with an eight-run lead, and we all waited with bated breath to see if he could get through it. There was trouble, as Hunter walked two of the first three batters (Wells struck out between them), but he retired the next two to end the inning. Well done, Tommy!
Going into the bottom of the seventh, Mike Scioscia made eight defensive changes. EIGHT. Keep that in mind later when Kevin Gregg tries to blow the game. Spoiler!
Willie Eyre pitched a perfect top of the eighth, then Kevin Gregg came in for the ninth. No big deal, right? It's an eight-run lead! Even he can't screw THAT up!
Well, he didn't lose the game, but he did find a way to take a feel good win and piss us off. He started the inning by walking Efren Navarro. Who? Exactly. He struck out Callaspo, one of the only original Angels still in the game, but then Hank Conger put a ball onto the flag court to bust up the shutout. Thanks, Kevin! The next batter reached on an error by Andino, which I'm sure in Gregg's mind absolves him of all guilt. After a pop up for the second out, the tiniest man ever, Alexi Amarista, battled Gregg for thirteen pitches before finally hitting a sinking liner to right field. Reimold, who moved over to right when Nick Markakis came out of the game, couldn't make the play and it went for a double. The third run of the game scored, prompting a visit from the pitching coach. Seriously. Gregg entered the game with an eight-run lead and needed a visit from the pitching coach to get out of it.
At any rate, he struck out Mike Trout to end the game. It was a well-played game all around, all except for one. But we're used to that.