Let's get the bad out of the way first: The reason the Orioles needed a big comeback was that Chris Tillman only lasted 4.2 innings and gave up four home runs (six runs total). The only saving grace of his start was that he walked just one batter, helping ensure that three of the Nationals' homers were solo shots. Ryan Zimmerman hit three of those homers, and Jordan Zimmermann pitched well through five innings, getting lots of weak contact through the first three.
The O's offense scored thrice in the first six innings, first on a double by Ryan Flaherty, just recalled from AAA for this game. The other two runs came on solo homers by Chris Davis and Nick Markakis. Zimmermann seemed fully in control and on track for another seven-plus inning quality start.
The seventh inning, however, proved to be a six-run outburst which handed Zimmermann by far his worst start of the year. Let me just put in the play-by-play here:
- Ryan Flaherty singles.
- Steve Pearce homers, scoring Flaherty. (O's 5, Nats 6)
- Nate McLouth singles.
- Manny Machado doubles, scoring McLouth. (O's 6, Nats 6)
- Nick Markakis singles, scoring Machado. (O's 7, Nats 6)
- Adam Jones flies out. (Aww...)
- Chris Davis homers, scoring Markakis. (O's 9, Nats 6)
Of course, even with this offensive surge, there was still the question of pitching. Steve Johnson once again pitched quite well in relief, contributing 2.1 scoreless innings, and Tommy Hunter followed up with a perfect eighth. My MLB.TV feed crapped out on me during the ninth inning, but Jim Johnson retired the Nats in order for the save. From the pitches I did see, his command looked pretty spotty, but thankfully he got the job done without any drama.
With losses by the Red Sox and Yankees today, the Orioles have moved up a game in the AL East standings - seemingly for the first time in ages - and sit 2.5 games back of Boston. Tomorrow, the O's will try to take the season series against the Nats and get a mini-sweep.