Finally, a win. The Orioles and their fans needed a night with big offense and a competent bullpen, and that's what they got tonight. Despite a lackluster night by starting pitcher Bud Norris, the Orioles put enough runs on the board to get the win and, for the first time in about 18 years, the bullpen didn't fall apart and ruin everything.
Norris was shaky in the first inning, and after he walked the lead off batter and gave up a single to Corey Dickerson to put runners on the corners with no outs, I thought, "Here we go again." But thanks to a double play ball Norris got out of the inning with only one run allowed.
The O's got that one run back in the first inning. Nate McLouth walked and moved to third on a single by Manny Machado. That gave Chris Davis an RBI opportunity, and while he didn't crush one as I hoped he would, he did hit the ball far enough that McLouth was able to score via sacrifice fly.
Really, the only half-inning worth spending much time is the bottom of the third. The O's scored seven runs in the inning and sent twelve batters to the plate. They also took advantage of several defensive miscues by the Rockies. They were only charged with one error, but I counted four plays that the Orioles would have made in the same situations.
First up was Chris Davis, who doubled to center field. Davis had to hustle for the double too; he was aggressive and it paid off. One passed ball later and Davis was on third. Adam Jones hit a ball to third base that Nolan Arenado couldn't handle. It was scored a single, but it was the first play of the inning that the Orioles would have made.
Nick Markakis was next up and he hit a fly ball to left field that Corey Dickerson dove for, and got a glove one, but couldn't handle. It also went down in the score book as a hit, but I think Nate McLouth would have gotten the out. After Matt Wieters grounded out for the first out of the inning, moving the runners over, Steve Pearce hit a ground ball that went right under Troy Tulowitzki's glove for an error (play #3 the Orioles would have made) and Jones came in to score.
Ryan Flaherty popped up for the second out, and with two outs it was up to Brian Roberts to extend the inning. He did so in classic B-Rob style, with a double off of the score board in right field. Both Markakis and Pearce scored to make the score 5-1. Nate McLouth walked to put two runners on for Manny Machado. He hit a ball to right field that Charlie Blackmon just couldn't get to (play #4 the Orioles might have made, I say might because it would have been close), and both Roberts and McLouth scored.
That was it for rookie starter Chad Bettis, who did not have a good night. He was replaced by Adam Ottovino, who wears number 0. I like that. Ottovino threw a wild pitch that allowed Machado to go to third, he walked Chris Davis, and then Jones got his second single of the inning, this one of the RBI variety. The twelfth batter of the inning, Markakis grounded out to end the inning.
Staked to a very large lead, Norris still struggled. He hit a batter and walked a batter in the fourth, setting the stage for an RBI single by Dexter Fowler. He gave up two more runs in the sixth and was pulled with just two outs. Troy Patton came in to face one batter, who he walked. Buck Showalter then went with Josh Stinson, just promoted before the game, to face Tulowitzki with two runners on. It made me very nervous, but Stinson struck Tulo out swinging to end the inning.
The final few innings were quiet for both teams, which was a welcome change from the recent games we've seen. Patton, Stinson, Brian Matusz, and Tommy Hunter combined to pitch 3 1/2 scoreless innings. They did allow a few runners, but other than the Stinson vs Tulowitzki at bat, there wasn't much stress. Well done, boys!
Tomorrow is the rubber game of the match as the Orioles send Scott Feldman to face off against the Rockies' Jhoulys Chacin who is, as they say, no slouch.