O's 2, Royals 6: Sweep Denied

Rob Carr

Freddy Garcia couldn't keep the ball in the park, and the Orioles missed their chance for a sweep yet again.

The O's had already won this series, making it their 8th series win out of 11, but they had yet to sweep an opponent. Coming into this game you have to believe they were looking for it against former teammate Jeremy Guthrie and the Royals.

Freddy Garcia made a game of it, going through the order perfectly the first time around. He was up 1-0 thanks to a throwing error by Alcides Escobar that allowed Adam Jones to reach base safely in the bottom of the 2nd. Matt Wieters singled to center to move Jones to second base, then J.J. Hardy singled again to score Jones.

Entering the top of the 4th inning, Garcia looked like he was in control. He hadn't allowed a baserunner yet, and he got Escobar to fly out to start the inning. But then Lorenzo Cain then stepped up to the plate and singled. It was a hard hit ball to Manny Machado, who gloved the ball well to his right but whose throw to Chris Davis was off the mark. Because of the high degree of difficulty on the play, it was scored a base hit instead of an error on Machado.

It would prove to be costly, as Alex Gorden blasted a home run to right field for his third home run in the series, putting the Royals up 2-1. Billy Butler then singled, which put a man on for Eric Hosmer, who clocked another two-run home run. 4-1 Royals, and there was still only one out. However, Garcia limited the damage, getting Salvador Perez and Jeff Francoeur out around a walk by Mike Moustakas. (I actually heard one of the O's broadcasters say something like "[Garcia] could've given up five runs, but he gave up only four." Um .... yep.)

In the bottom of the fourth, Davis did what he does best: crank a home run to straightaway center field to cut into the Royals' lead. My enthusiasm was high, but Wieters and Hardy couldn't carry the rally. Ryan Flaherty singled, but Nolan Reimold K'd to end the inning. Davis would be the last Oriole to cross the plate.

Garcia returned to form in the 5th and 6th, allowing only a single to Eric Hosmer. Wieters doubled with one out in the bottom of the 6th, but he was left out to dry on a flyout from Hardy and a questionable third-strike call to Ryan Flaherty.

In the top of the 7th, T.J. McFarland replaced Garcia and immediately gave up a long fly ball to Moustakas that bounced off the right field foul pole for a home run. 5-2 Royals. In the bottom of the inning, Aaron Crow replaced Guthrie and retired Reimold, Nate McLouth, and Manny Machado 1-2-3.

McFarland came back to work the top of the 8th and allowed a leadoff single to Alex Gordon. With Billy Butler at the plate, Ned Yost then put on the hit-and-run; Butler grounded out but Gordon made it to second base safely. He scored the Royals' 6th run two batters later when Salvador Perez blooped a single into shallow right field. In the bottom of the 8th, working against Kelvin Herrera, Nick Markakis doubled down the left field line. Hope faintly stirred, but Adam Jones struck out, Chris Davis also struck out, and Wieters grounded out to Chris Getz at second base. Pedro Strop and Luke Hochevar each pitched perfect innings to bring the game to a close.

And so the O's win the series but are still looking for their first sweep of the year. It's hard to complain about not sweeping a team, given how terrible the Orioles were so recently and how they haven't been swept themselves this year. So I'll choose to focus on the fact that our team is playing very well at the moment.

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