BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 26: Wilson Betermit #24 and Darren O'Day #56 of the Baltimore Orioles watch Eric Hosmer #35 of the Kansas City Royals bunt stay fair in the seventh inning during a baseball game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
It was a tough loss for the O's today. They had trouble against Felipe Paulino (although, who hasn't this year?) and their usual reliable bullpen wasn't able to defend the lead left to them by Wei-Yin Chen who pitched a good six-innings.
If you were at today's game, as I was, then you know it was a hot, sticky day in Baltimore. Not nearly as hot or as sticky as it will get when we get into summer, but today was definitely a taste of the Baltimore weather we're all used to. For starting pitcher Wei-Yin Chen, it was his first time feeling it. It's hard to say how it affected him, although he admitted that it did, and he was visibly sweating up a storm.
Chen should have had a 1-2-3 first inning, but Wilson Betemit couldn't handle a soft ground ball from Billy Butler, so Chen was forced to retire another batter. After a twenty-pitch second inning in which he allowed two base runners, Chen was perfect in the third and fourth and kept his pitch count low. It was looking good for Chen.
In the meantime, the Orioles got on the board in the second inning when Chris Davis hit his second home run in as many days, this one to center field. They added two more in the third on J.J. Hardy's 10th home run of the season, and a sacrifice fly from Matt Wieters to knock in Adam Jones, who was on third thanks to a triple. And as you can tell from the final score, this is when the O's stopped scoring runs. But that's not say they didn't have their chances.
Paulino walked Wilson Betemit to start the fourth, but the O's stranded him. Nick Markakis and Wieters both walked in the fifth, but no one could knock them in. In the sixth, Betemit walked again! And again, nothing. And in the seventh, Hardy led off with a single but was wiped out on a double play off the bat of Jones.
While the Orioles were flailing at the plate, the Royals were chipping away at their 3-0 lead. It started in the fifth inning when Eric Hosmer singled in Johnny Giavotella to make it 3-1. And in the sixth inning, Butler hit a rocket to center field that was a no-doubt home run. 3-2.
That was the score after six, and the score when Chen left the game. He was at 99 pitches but drenched in sweat and looked fatigued, so it seemed like a good call. He turned it over the normally reliable Darren O'Day, who was a bit unlucky tonight. After getting the first out of the inning, Hosmer hit a ball slowly up the third base line. As the entire Orioles infield seemed fixated on if the ball would roll foul, Hosmer ran to first. They kept waiting for it to roll foul and Hosmer kept running. By the time the ball came to a stop exactly on top of the foul line, Hosmer was on second base. Seriously. So when Humberto Quintero hit an actual double to the outfield, Hosmer scored the tying run easily. Facepalm.
While O'Day was victim of some bad luck, Pedro Strop was just plain bad. He started the eighth inning by giving up a single to Mike Moustakas, then got a ground out before walking Alex Gordon. A single from Giavotella loaded the bases for Hosmer, who hit a liner to left field to score the Royals fourth run of the game. He retired the next two batter without allowing another run, but the damage was done.
After Luis Ayala pitched an uneventful top of the ninth, the Orioles (and the Royals) made it interesting in the bottom half but fell short. Robert Andino singled to lead off the inning, then Xavier Avery hit what looked like a double play ball. But the Royals 2B bobbled the play and they only got one out. Then Hardy hit another double play ball, this one to shortstop. But the relay throw to first was high and the Orioles were still alive. That brought Markakis to the plate with two down, and he grounded out to end the game.
Tomorrow the O's and Royals will play the rubber game, and the Orioles will have to win if they want to avoid back-to-back series losses for the first time this season.