Baseball is a game of boredom occasionally punctuated by moments of excitement. Sometimes it's just a game of boredom. Monday saw a boring, 3:13 affair played between the Orioles and the Royals. The game had a good result for the O's, with Scott Feldman's eight inning effort and an 18 hit barrage by the offense that tied a season high driving them to their fifth straight win, a 9-2 beating of Kansas City. It was a win, but ho-hum. Perhaps we are getting spoiled by good baseball.
The Orioles got things off on the right foot with the very first batter of the game: Nate McLouth walked. The leadoff hitter walked to start the game! Yes, it seems like a miracle. Next was Manny Machado, who grounded a ball to third base that should have been a double-play ball. Fortunately for the Orioles, they are the only team with Machado. Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas went to start the double play before he actually had the ball. The ball rolled into left field and let McLouth score from first, with Machado ending up on second to give the O's an early 1-0 lead.
In the second inning, they would load the bases with nobody out on singles by Henry Urrutia and McLouth that sandwiched a Brian Roberts walk. What team do you think you're watching? Machado struck out, Markakis struck out, and Adam Jones looked like he was about to strike out. Instead, Jones drove a ball deep to center that looked like it should be a bases-clearing double.
It should be really exciting that the Orioles scored nine runs. It was, but it wasn't. Davis was painful to watch, especially in the third inning, which he could not even finish. He was unable to find the strike zone, hurling fat pitches when he could, and yet, as bad as he looked, the Royals were "only" down 4-0 when he left the game. Machado grounded out on the first pitch he saw by reliever Luis Mendoza to end a first-and-third threat.
The 18 hits saw every O's starter have a multi-hit game except for Machado and Roberts, neither of whom got any hits at all. Machado, rocking the high socks, took an 0-6 on the night.
Mendoza did not have much more luck than Davis on the night. Davis ended up going 2.2 innings, with four runs (two earned) on seven hits and three walks. Mendoza pitched 3.1 innings while giving up five runs on seven hits and a walk. He was particularly victimized in the sixth inning by All-Star Chris Davis, who had a two-run double, and All-Star J.J. Hardy drove in Davis with a two-run home run to left center. The homer was Hardy's 17th of the season.
For Davis, the two runs driven in were his 96th and 97th of the season, meaning that he is now the leader in the American League for both home runs and RBI. Miguel Cabrera, who left tonight's game in Chicago early, has 96 RBI. Triple Crown that, guy who swigs from the bottle of booze while asking the cops who've pulled him over for a DUI if they know who he is.
On the other side of the ball, there was Feldman, whose eight innings of five hit ball were one more boring thing about this game. When a pitcher is racking up the strikeouts, that's exciting. When they give up lots of hits, that is also exciting, in a bad way. Feldman did neither. He had three strikeouts with two walks, and only had seven baserunners in his eight innings.
Credit to Feldman for battling through some stressful moments in the third, fourth, and fifth innings with minimal damage. A run scored in the third and the fourth, but none did in the fifth despite back-to-back two-out walks to Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler. Those would be the last baserunners against Feldman on the night. He retired Salvador Perez on a foul popout and pitched perfect innings in the sixth, seventh (!) and eighth (!!).
That made back-to-back eight inning starts for the Orioles for the first time since Jim Palmer retired. (Fact-check pending on previous sentence.) O's starters have gone 29 innings in four starts following the All-Star Break.
Troy Patton pitched a boring ninth inning to finish off this boring win. That made it five straight wins for the Orioles, their longest winning streak of the season. That part is exciting. So is the fact that Boston lost to Tampa Bay, meaning that the O's are now 2.5 games back in the American League East, with the two teams ahead of them continuing to play one another as the O's continue to take on the sub-.500 Royals.
Markakis, Urrutia, and Hardy all had three-hit games for the O's, who hopefully did not use up their offensive output for the series in its first game.
Feldman earned the win to raise his American League record to 2-1, while Wade Davis took the loss, dropping to 4-9 on the season.
The Orioles will look to make it six straight wins when they take on the Royals again Tuesday night. Jason Hammel will be looking to get in on the string of strong starts for the O's rotation, with Bruce Chen getting the start for the Royals. Soft-tossing lefty? Don't get your hopes up.