Orioles 7, Tigers 5: An Earl Weaver Walkoff Special

Greg Fiume

Max Scherzer outpitched Miguel Gonzalez, but Jose Valverde gave up ninth-inning homers to Nick Markakis and Chris Dickerson, and O's fans went home happy.

Chris Dickerson picked a good time to heal up. MASN's Roch Kubatko noted earlier today that he's been receiving treatment for a sore wrist for the past week or so, but he was put into the lineup to DH tonight and delivered the big hit to end the game. But, I'm getting ahead of myself, here.

Miguel Gonzalez didn't pitch quite as badly as his line would make it look. All five runs he surrendered were earned, but the Tigers just did a very good job of hitting tonight, fouling off or hitting some pretty good pitches. He walked three batters in six innings, which is mediocre, but none of them ended up hurting anything but his pitch count, and he did strike out six. He did, however, surrender two homers, one to Miguel Cabrera - okay, that'll happen - and one to some guy named Avisail Garcia. Basically, it was a bad start, but not one that merits the usual "five runs, all earned" snark.

Max Scherzer came into the game 7-0, and through eight innings, looked like he'd leave it 8-0. His final line: 8 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 10 SO. He didn't look nearly that good through the first three innings, as the Orioles scored in the second on a Wieters sacrifice fly and in the third on a two-run bomb by Adam Jones. That's all the offense they would manage against Scherzer, though, as no Orioles reached base in the fourth through eighth innings. Yet it felt like the O's were always close to rallying to retake the lead, as lots of hard-hit balls just barely found gloves or died on the warning track.

Fortunately, the O's bullpen kept them in the game, as Steve Johnson, Brian Matusz, and Darren O'Day combined for 2.1 perfect innings after the still-shaky Troy Patton allowed two baserunners in the seventh. When Jose Valverde came in to record the save, I felt a surge of hope: the guy is not the shutdown reliever that the 2011 season made him appear to be, and a 5-3 deficit is not insurmountable. Nick Markakis led off the inning with a solo shot to right field, and Adam Jones and Chris Davis both reached on singles. Jones took third base on Davis's hit, and with Matt Wieters and J.J. Hardy coming to the plate, a game-tying sacrifice fly (or better) seemed pretty likely, but both popped up on high, out-of-the-zone fastballs. Chris Dickerson then took two up-and-away fastballs, fouled off a third that was over the plate, and destroyed the fourth, which was in the same location. The Earl Weaver Special gave the sellout crowd, which was quite loud starting with Markakis's homer, reason to go crazy, and the O's won, 7-5.

With the win tonight and the Yankees beating the Red Sox (Why, oh why, can't they both lose?), the Orioles are now 1.5 games behind Boston for the AL East lead. Tomorrow, Jason Hammel will likely have to look as dominant as he did against the Nationals on Monday, as he takes on Justin Verlander at 4:05.

Edit: Here's a video of the post-game interview with Dickerson.

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