June 20, 2012; Flushing, NY, USA; Baltimore Orioles left fielder Ryan Flaherty (3) and center fielder Adam Jones (10) collide and drop the ball hit by New York Mets left fielder Scott Hairston in 1st inning at Citi Field.
The final score of this game makes it seem a lot closer than it was, as for most of the night the Orioles were one-hit by a person whose last name is Gee! And the one hit? It was by Brian Matusz! It took until the 8th inning for them to get on the board and then it was too little, too late. The end result? Swept at the hands of the Mets. Embarrassing.
So I'm not saying that Dillon Gee is a bad pitcher. He seems OK. But he is really not good enough to one-hit the Orioles through seven innings. And yet, that's exactly what happened. I'll save you the time of reading a breakdown of every inning by telling you this: In innings 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, and 7, the Orioles went down 1-2-3. Not a single baserunner in any of those innings.
That leaves the third inning. In the third inning, Gee got the first two outs, then gave up a two-out single to Matusz. Matusz! The one who almost broke his nose bunting in batting practice the other day. The other Brian, Brian Roberts, followed that with a walk, but with two down the slumping J.J. Hardy lined out to shortstop to end the inning.
Gee finally got into some trouble in the 8th inning, but first let's talk about how Matusz did on the mound. Where Gee only allowed baserunners in one of the first seven innings he pitched, Matusz only had one perfect inning all night. It started in the first as he gave up a single to the first batter he faced, Andres Torres. Torres was replaced at first by Jordany Valdespin thanks to a fielder's choice, then Valdespin made the error of running on Matt Wieters. He was thrown out, leaving Matusz with two outs and no runners on, but Matusz looked his gift horse in the mouth by giving up a single to David Wright. The next batter, Scott Hairston, hit a fly ball to left-center field. Adam Jones and Ryan Flaherty both went for the ball and knocked gloves. Wright ended up at third, Hairston at second. Matusz got Vinny Rottino to ground out to end the inning, but Matusz's troubles plus the error in the outfield meant 25 pitches thrown.
The second inning was the one where Matusz faced only three batters (and on just ten pitches!), and to his credit the only runner in the third reached on an error by Wilson Betemit. Torres hit a grounder to third and Betemit couldn't play it cleanly, then rushed the throw so that it sailed past Nick Johnson at first. Well done, Wilson.
The Mets got on the board in the fourth inning. Hairston doubled to lead off but it looked like Matusz might strand him when he quickly got the next two outs (SPOILER: he didn't strand him). Instead he walked Justin Turner, remember him? And then someone named Mike Nickeas singled Hairston in for the first run of the game.
The fifth inning was Matusz's last, which just isn't good. He got the first out of the inning, then gave up back-to-back singles to Valdespin and Wright. That set the table for Scott Hairston, who proved to be a real menace tonight. Hairston doubled again and knocked in Valdespin. So with runners on second and third and one out, the Orioles elected to intentionally walk Vinny Rottino. I've never even heard of Vinny Rottino! And he's getting intentionally walked in favor of Ike Davis. Davis' total numbers on the year aren't great, but he's been on fire of late. Anyway, with the bases loaded and one out, Davis didn't get a hit. But he did ground into a fielder's choice that resulted in a run. Excellent plan, guys.
That was it for Brian Matusz, who as pulled for Luis Ayala as Steve Pearce made his way to left field so that he could take over Matusz's batting spot. The old double switch! Oh, National League. I can't wait until I don't have to see you again this year.
Ayala got the final out of the fifth inning but didn't fare too well in the sixth. A double, a walk, a wild pitch, and another double gave the Mets their fourth and final run of the night. Pedro Strop and Jim Johnson pitched a perfect seventh inning and eighth inning, respectively. They had to get some work in since the setup guy and closer don't see much action when a team doesn't score any runs for three games.
Finally, finally, in the eighth inning the O's bats showed some life. Nick Johnson singled and was on board for Wilson Betemit's 9th home run of the year. Team Steve followed, with Steve Tolleson pinch hitting for Strop. He struck out, but Steve Pearce did his best to pick up his fellow Steve with a walk. The walk forced Gee out of the game, and Brian Roberts greeted the new pitcher, Bobby Parnell, with a single. But Hardy and Chris Davis couldn't do anything with the baserunners so the score remained 4-2.
They made some noise in the ninth inning, but not enough. Closer Frank Francisco came into the game and gave up one-out singles to Wieters and Johnson, then got Betemit to pop out. Pinch hitter Mark Reynolds walked to load the bases, then Pearce took his second walk in as many innings, this one forcing in a run. So with the bases loaded and two outs, Roberts stepped to the plate with the chance to be a hero. Instead he grounded out to second to end the game.
What a disappointing series. The starting pitching was bad, the hitting was bad, and tonight the defense was bad. Thank goodness for the off day tomorrow, and hopefully the O's will shake off their troubles when the Nats come to Baltimore on Friday.