The Orioles went into the game looking for their fifth consecutive win, and since the Boston Red Sox won tonight, they needed it. But while Jason Hammel looked good early on, the offense could never get going against lefty John Danks. The end result was a 5-2 loss that dropped them to 3 1/2 games behind the Red Sox in the A.L. East.
White Sox starter John Danks, a lefty whose fastball averages about 88 mph this season, has had a rough go of it lately. In his last three starts he has taken a loss from the Astros, the Twins, and the Mets (although he actually pitched quite well against the Mets). He hasn't been a very good pitcher for several seasons now, but he's certainly capable of pitching well on occasion. Tonight was one of them.
Danks went through the first eight hitters of the Orioles lineup without allowing a hit. The only baserunner through the first two innings was Chris Davis, who walked. But with one out in the third inning, number nine hitter Brian Roberts put a really nice swing on Danks' fastball and hit it into the left field seats. Yay, Brian! It was his first home run since April 13, 2011. It gave the O's a 1-0 lead and the Orioles fans some warm fuzzies.
The Orioles put two more runners on base immediately as Nick Markakis and Manny Machado both singled on the first pitch they say, but neither J.J. Hardy nor Adam Jones could get them in and they settled for just the one run.
After that inning, Danks settled down. He pitched through the seventh inning and after the third allowed just two base runners on another single to Markakis in the fifth inning and a seventh inning single by Nolan Reimold, who was back in the lineup for the first time since May 11th.
For much of the game, Jason Hammel held his own against Danks, although he did allow quite a few more base runners. Hammel kept the White Sox off the board until the fourth inning despite allowing hits in each of the first three. In the fourth, Hammel issued his first walk of the day, a one-out free pass to Conor Gillaspie. A single by Dayan Viciedo moved Gillaspie to second and he came in to score on a single from Gordon Beckham.
Hammel gave up the lead in the sixth inning on a home run to Gillaspie. At the time it looked like Hammel might end up being the hard luck loser, but even that unraveled in the seventh inning.
Hammel got the first out of the seventh, but then hit Alejandro De Aza. Alexei Ramirez moved De Aza to third with a single, and the he stole second base despite the fact that Hammel threw over to first several times. With runners on second and third with just one out, the infield came in. Alex Rios hit a chopper to third base, but Machado didn't throw home. It would have been a tough play, and instead Manny went for the tag out of the runner coming towards him from second. Ramirez ended up getting himself into a run down to avoid the double play, but he was so far out of the base path that he should have been out much earlier than he was. Thanks to his run down skills and/or the incompetence of the umpires, Rios was able to get to second by the time Ramirez was tagged out.
It was clear that Hammel was losing steam at this point, but he just had to get one last out to keep the game at a respectable two-run deficit. That meant retiring Adam Dunn, which he couldn't do. Dunn hit a monster blast to right field, so obviously gone was it that Nick Markakis didn't even bother turning around. It put the score at 5-1.
Danks started the eighth inning and gave up a leadoff single to Markakis, who had a pretty good day with three hits. With Nick on first base, manager Robin Ventura went to his pen and brought in Nate Jones. Machado worked Jones for a walk and it looked like a rally might be in the works. Well, it looked that way until Hardy grounded into a double play. Adam Jones singled up the middle to knock in Markakis and make the score 5-2 and Ventura again played a matchup. He brought in Matt Thornton to face Chris Davis, who line to right field to end the inning.
Kevin Gausman, who I suspect will be optioned when Scott Feldman shows up tomorrow, pitched the eighth inning for the Birds with one single allowed. White Sox closer Addison Reed pitched the top of the ninth, and after a two-out pinch-hit double by Nate McLouth, struck out Roberts to end the game.