And why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up. - Thomas Wayne, Batman Begins
After stumbling pretty badly the last two games, the Orioles came back tonight and won a no doubter. The Orioles came into this game as cold as they have been all year. A rough loss in Oakland was followed up by some good old Joe Saunders domination last night. Jason Hammel took the hill trying to heal the wounds opened by Zach Britton. He went up against youngster Brandon Maurer.
The Orioles tagged Maurer early. Nate McLouth, benched for platoon purposes last night, came out swinging and belted a lead off home run a solid 10 to 15 rows back in right field as he continues to be one of the hottest hitters in baseball. Manny Machado next ripped a double down into the left field corner next. Manny would move up to third on wild pitch and then hey! another wild pitch brought Manny home. Quickly the Orioles got out to a 2 - 0 lead. Nick Markakis continued the 1st inning hit barrage with a single. After Adam Jones struck out and Chris Davis walked, Matt Wieters continued his hot hitting after a home run last night with a two run double into right field tonight. Sadly, JJ Hardy and Ryan Flarhety failed to really stick it to Maurer, but the Orioles came away with a 4 spot and that would prove to be enough.
After that Maurer more or less settled down, he never had great stuff and he would only go four innings before Blake Beaven came in. In the 6th Hardy got a one out single, Flarehty followed up with a double that nearly went out, but instead Michael Saunders had it go off his glove. Chris Dickerson, who reached on a bunt base hit earlier, hit a well placed single into center field to make it 6-0. It was quite shocking to see the bottom of the lineup actually do something productive. McLouth would walk, but Machado struck out on three pitches and Markakis grounded out, stranding two.
Hammel meanwhile didn't have good stuff either, but he fought through it. His ball/strike ratio was pretty bad, with 58% strikes and he routinely was working behind on hitters or with runners on base, he did not have a single 1,2,3 inning. Against a more imposing lineup, his line surely would not have looked as good. Hammel entered the 6th inning with 90 pitches, the first batter, Michael Morse, got ahead 3-1 and hit an absolute bomb opposite field. Jason Bay then reached on an infield single. Hammel then fell behind Justin Smoak who launched a 2-1 pitch foul down the 1st base line. Clearly Hammel's luck was running out. The next pitch Smoak rocked into center on one hop to Jones. With Hammel getting hit hard with balls up in the zone, Buck pulled him after getting no outs in the 5th. Tommy Hunter was up next, even after pitching two innings last night. Dustin Ackley hopped on the first pitch from Hunter and grounded one up the middle passed a diving Flarht to load the bases. All of the sudden the Orioles big lead with on the brink of collapse.
That would bring up Kelly Shoppach with the bases loaded. A game that was honeslty pretty boring up until this point all of the sudden got interesting in a very bad way for Oriole fans. Shoppach hit a slow broken bat dribbler to Hardy who got the force at second, but another run came in, charged to Hammel. Brendan Ryan was up next, a stroke of luck for the Orioles, and he hit a ball to Hardy who steppd on the bag at 2nd and fired to first, holding the damage to just two runs. It was truly a disappointing outing for Hammel, but the outcome could have been much worse. He went 5 and gave up 2 runs on 7 hits and 3 walks, that's a WHIP of 2, he struck out 5.
In the 7th with one out Chris Davis singled, and as the sparse Safeco crowd half heartedly did the wave, Wieters singled Davis over the third. Hardy knocked home Davis with a broken bat blooper bringing Blake Beavan back to the bench. Next up for the Mariners was Oliver Perez. Flarhety walked to load up the bases for Dickerson who couldn't add to his 3 for 3 day and was punched out by Perez. With the bases still loaded, Man of Steel, Nate McLouth grounded out leaving the bases loaded.
Troy Patton came in to start the 7th. He got two outs then let Kendrys Morales reach, prompting Buck to pull him and go with Darren O'Day, which is strange move considering the five run lead and the whole issue of over working the key bullpen members, why not go with McFarland here for a few innings?
Manny led off the 8th with a double, along with the rest of the lineup he is really getting hot, his average is up to .304 after two doubles today. After Nick flew out, the Mariners walked Adam Jones to bring up CHRIS DAVIS, seems silly right? Well it worked, Davis struck out, that's why they pay Eric Wedge the big bucks, that is until he gets fired in June.
In the bottom of the 8th with two outs O'Day put two runners on, then Raul Ibanez came up to pinch hit, because, I assume, Eric Wedge hates Orioles fans and wants them to suffer. Brian Matusz came in to face Ibanez and force us all to remember horrible, horrible things. This time, Matusz got Ibanez out, seven months too late. Matusz would finish off the win with a 1,2,3, 9th.
This game was par for the course as Hammel continued the tradition of poor Oriole starts, but he was bailed out by his lineup and an excellent outing by the bullpen. Hopefully Wei-Yin Chen can give the Orioles some innings tomorrow as they face Aaron Harang, a guy they should really hit hard. Join us again tomorrow at 10 PM Eastern to see who will win the series at Safeco.