The Angels entered this series with the Orioles with hopes of continuing to gain ground on Texas. One of the strengths of LAAAOCCAUSAESMWU has been their starting pitching, but for a second straight game they were abused. In this case, Ervin Santana was tagged early, if not often. O's hitters staked out a 5-0 lead following a two-run home run by J.J. Hardy - his 27th of the year, which came before an out was even recorded - and a three-run shot by Mark Reynolds. That was all they'd need en route to a 6-2 victory.
Santana did not respond well to being smacked around, as he hit two Orioles batters in very blatant fashion. Nolan Reimold came up to bat immediately after the 34th Reynolds home run of the season and Reimold was hit by a pitch. In Reynolds' next plate appearance, he was drilled in the head by a Santana pitch. Every pitch to the head is scary. Santana was headhunting as plain as you can. Reynolds turned in so that the pitch hit the ear flap of his helmet. The ball smacked as loudly as if it was cracked off the bat for another home run. Reynolds went down but he scrambled right back to his feet. There were no Jeterian theatrics here. For a moment it looked like he was going for the mound, but he chose to get his revenge by coolly taking his base. Trainer Richie Bancells immediately checked out Reynolds for concussion symptoms. He remained in the game through the top of the 5th but was lifted then, so hopefully there was nothing serious wrong and the substitution was merely precautionary.
The umpires did not issue the warning to both benches until after this second obvious HBP, so retaliation by the Orioles was not something that could be on the agenda. Perhaps it was best to let Zach Britton focus on pitching rather than gamesmanship, and pitch he did well. Zach threw the kind of game that lets O's fans feel the slightest bit of hope for the future, looking strong throughout a seven-inning effort, scattering three hits and two walks over seven innings while notching seven strikeouts. While Zach was in the game there was never any doubt over the outcome.
Santana looked more like himself after the bottom of the first. He only allowed one base hit as he too made it seven innings, but he was stuck with the five runs, and the knowledge that he looked like a whiny punk for the bean ball on Reynolds. It was the kind of thing that prompted Jim Palmer on the MASN broadcast to say, "Earl Weaver used to say, 'OK, look at third base. Are we better than them? Look at center field. Are we better than them?'" In Palmer's day, that meant Orioles probably shouldn't hit dudes because they were better than other teams all around the field. In 2011, it probably means someone like the Angels' Howie Kendrick should be light on his feet in the batter's box tomorrow.
Enough of that unpleasantness. Let's move on to look at the rest of a great Orioles win. No O's batter got more than one hit, but they got ones that mattered to get the six runs. Chris Davis drove in the sixth O's run with a double in the 8th inning that scored Matt Wieters from first base thanks to an error fielding the ball by Angels RF Mike Trout. Matt Angle and Wieters both had a pair of walks. Good plate discipline from the Matts tonight.
In all, LAAAOCCAUSAESMWU batters only managed four hits. Pedro Strop, the Honey Badger, pitched in the 8th inning, taking only 14 pitches to get three outs easily. He walked the leadoff hitter but immediately got Maicer Izturis to ground into a double play, then, despite all of Camden Chat rooting for a 99mph brushback at about rib cage level, just retired Peter Bourjos on a lazy fly ball.
Jim Johnson came on for the 9th, although it was not a save situation. JJ must have continued to want to make Kevin Gregg not feel bad because he walked the leadoff hitter. He had a dramatic fly-out by Torii Hunter, which Nick Markakis made a great leaping grab to catch as he crashed into the fence below the out-of-town scoreboard. For his next act, JJ completely abused Mark Trumbo, getting a three pitch strikeout. Trumbo never had a chance. With an 0-1 count, Johnson dropped in one of the filthiest breaking balls you'll ever see to get a called strike, and then blew him away with some high heat that he could not catch up to. For all that Angels fans are crowing about how Trumbo should be a Rookie of the Year candidate, he didn't look like one right there.
JJ went back to drama mode after that, allowing a triple to Vernon Wells, which scored Kendrick, but then he struck out Trout to end the game and give the O's their fourth straight victory.
Tomorrow afternoon's matchup will feature Alfredo Simon for the O's against LAAAOCCAUSAESMWU's Cy Young hopeful, Jered Weaver. The O's will be going for the sweep having already won back-to-back series' in the first time in what seems like forever.