With the offense-minded Orioles and Red Sox squaring off, everyone expected a high-scoring series. But if there was going to be a low-scoring game in this four-game set, it was going to be tonight's Chris Tillman-Ryan Dempster matchup. And indeed, the game was a 2-0 squeaker, even if there were baserunners all over the place for both teams. Fortunately, the Orioles crossed home plate a couple times and the Red Sox never could. Maybe the atrocious camouflage caps made for a little bit of invisiball.
Chris Tillman turned in 6+ innings of effectively wild but scoreless ball. Apparently upset that the Orioles didn't walk anyone in 13 innings last night, Tillman walked a batter in each of the first four innings, as well as scattering a few singles, but managed to keep himself out of trouble each time, even without the aid of any double play balls. There was a scary warning-track fly ball in the first, and a hard liner to Manny Machado in the second, too, but the results were there, and even more encouraging, Tillman broke his recent streak of allowing a solo homer or two in each start. Tillman only made it through six, and was quickly lifted in the top of the seventh after allowing a lucky flare of a double to Jose Iglesias, but even if he lived on the edge, he got his job done.
Ryan Dempster probably outpitched Tillman, if we're being honest, but the Orioles offense chipped away at him just enough. Dempster allowed an opposite-field solo home run to Chris Davis in the second, but really, that's kind of just what Chris Davis does these days. The Orioles scratched out another run in the third on a Nate McLouth walk, Manny Machado single and Adam Jones infield hit. It wasn't pretty, but it worked, and it gave the Orioles a 2-0 lead that held for the remainder of the game. Dempster worked out of spots of minor trouble until the 8th, when a Machado double (which, again, is just what he does - that's 30 in 68 games), combined with walks to Davis and Matt Wieters, loaded the bases with two outs and denied Dempster his opportunity for a complete game. But Koji Uehara came in and struck out J.J. Hardy to end that threat.
Meanwhile, on the Orioles side, after Tillman exited the game, the bullpen was used in a nice proper sequence to hold the Red Sox in check. Darren O'Day worked around Tillman's leadoff double in the seventh with a popout, strikeout and routine flyball. Tommy Hunter cruised through the eighth with two weak popouts and a flyball, and Jim Johnson logged a quick save (grabbing the MLB lead) on a sequence of a strikeout, hit by pitch and double play. This is the bullpen (and proper management of said bullpen) that I like to see -- although after last night's 13-inning affair, Orioles fans now have to worry about how a close game would be managed tomorrow. But tomorrow is tomorrow, and today is today. And today, the Orioles are the victors, holding the AL's top-scoring offense scoreless for 15 consecutive innings and moving within 1.5 games of the AL East lead.