The average baseball fan could tell you about David Price. #1 draft pick, highly touted prospect, in the midst of another fine year for the Tampa Bay Rays. The average baseball fan probably couldn't tell you much about Miguel Gonzalez. After all, he just made his major-league debut this season, two days after he turned 28 years old. He has spent years in the minors and in the Mexican League, and even most Orioles fans couldn't pick him out of a lineup (heck, the SB Nation player tagger doesn't even recognize him). But today, pedigree and fame played no part in the game. Gonzalez and Price dueled like two aces, putting up zero after zero on the scoreboard for their teams. And in the end, thanks to the gutsy effort by Gonzalez in a game when he was clearly the underdog, the Orioles prevailed.
Both Price and Gonzalez had lapses with their control in the game as Price walked three batters, Gonzalez four. But they each only gave up two hits, which made for few situations for the other team to score. Gonzalez allowed more than one baserunner in just one inning, when he walked two batters in the fifth inning, which was closest the Rays came to a rally in the entire game. Otherwise they never had more than one batter on base in an inning, and Gonzalez was perfect twice.
Price was even better: two Orioles reached base in the second inning but couldn't score. From the third through eighth innings, Price allowed just two more baserunners total, one on a single by Robert Andino in the third inning, and the other a walk by J.J. Hardy in the sixth.
With 104 pitches after seven innings, Gonzalez was finished. The walks probably kept him from being able to go out for another inning, but really, I couldn't ask much more of the guy. Great day for Gonzalez. He turned the game over the the Orioles reliable bullpen, and they delivered. Darren O'Day pitched a perfect eighth, and after Troy Patton gave up a tough-luck single to Matt Joyce to start the ninth, Luis Ayala came in kept the Rays from capitalizing, his only baserunner coming on an intentional walk to Carlos Pena.
For the Rays, Fernando Rodney took over for Price in the ninth inning and didn't allow a run despite a leadoff walk to Andino. But finally, in the tenth inning, a pitcher blinked. That pitcher was Joel Peralta.
After recording a fly out from pinch hitter Nate McLouth, Peralta walked Mark Reynolds (at least Reynolds will still take a walk). That brought Omar Quintanilla to the plate and I hoped he'd hit a home run so badly. Not only because it would give the Orioles a lead, but also because I could then make the headline to this story, "Omar Comin'." or "You come at the king, you best not miss." Sadly, Omar struck out.
With two outs, up came Taylor Teagarden, who of course introduced himself to Orioles fans with a walk-off home run on July 14th, his first game as an Oriole. Since then, unfortunately, he'd gone 1-for-25, including his three earlier at bats in this game. Could he recapture that extra-inning magic? He could! With a 3-2 count, which thankfully meant Reynolds would be running on the pitch, Teagarden sent a ball to left-center field that rolled to the wall for a double. Reynolds came around to score the one and only run of the game. Well done, Taylor!
After that, all that was left was for Jim Johnson to do his thing, and he did it well. He needed only eight pitches against three Rays to get three outs and end the game. O's win!
With that win, the Orioles went 4-2 on their road trip with series wins in both New York and Tampa Bay. Not bad, not bad at all. It's August, and baseball is fun!