The Orioles got a much needed win today against the Cleveland Indians, and it was a game that featured both good pitching and good hitting, something that we often don't see in the same game. Seven strong innings pitched by starter Bud Norris, a home run by Nate McLouth, and a four-hit day by Matt Wieters gave the O's what they needed to get the win.
Coming into the game the Orioles were just 1/2 game ahead of both the Indians and the Yankees in the race for the wild card, and with the Yankees smacking around the White Sox early it was clear that the Orioles needed to win today to keep from falling two spots in the race.
The Indians caught a bad break for their team in the second inning when their #1 starter, Justin Masterson, had to come out of the game with soreness in his rib cage. Masterson gave up a single to Matt Wieters and then had to leave the game in the middle of pitching to Nick Markakis. It would appear that the Indians don't have a long reliever in their bullpen as they used seven relievers over the rest of the game.
The first relief pitcher, Preston Guilmet, did not have much success. Markakis singled to put runners on first and second, and after J.J. Hardy flew out, Nate McLouth hit a deep fly ball to center field. Michael Bourn leaped for it but it went over his head. Wieters scored and Markakis went to third on the double. Unfortunately, after the play the Indians appealed, saying that Markakis didn't touch second base. They were awarded the out, which turned McLouth's double into a fielder's choice.
So Guilmet was given a bonus out, but he couldn't make the best of it. He walked Alexi Casilla and gave up a two-run double to Brian Roberts, giving the Orioles a 3-0 lead. Poor Masterson just gave up a single to Wieters and he took the loss.
The O's added two more runs in the fourth inning when Nate McLouth destroyed a ball to right field with Hardy on base. He's been slumping for some time, but McLouth looked good today with two (shoulda been three) hits.
Bud Norris was pitching like a man who wants to reach the playoffs today. After a 1-2-3 inning in the first he gave up a single and walk in the second, but picked off Asdrubal Cabrera at second to end the inning. He didn't allow a baserunner in the third, fourth, or fifth innings, and stranded a leadoff double in the sixth.
Former Oriole Clay Rapada came in to pitch the seventh inning for the Indians. He walked two batters and gave up a single to Wieters to load the bases with no outs, but the Orioles couldn't take advantage. Markakis popped out to the third baseman and, after a pitching change to bring in another former Oriole, Matt Albers, Hardy grounded into a double play.
Jason Kipnis greeted Norris in the bottom of the seventh inning with a home run to make the score 5-1. He got out of the inning with no more runs, though he did give up a single and the two ground outs were hit pretty hard. I thought he might come back and start the eighth inning, but wasn't upset when I saw Tommy Hunter jogging out to start the inning.
Tommy, as he sometimes does, went boom. He gave up a home run to Lonnie Chisenhall that just snuck inside the foul pole in right field. Jim Johnson promptly began warming in the bullpen since it was a save situation. Hunter got the next three batters to get out of the inning and keep the O's lead at three runs.
Marc Rzepczynski came in to pitch the ninth for the Indians, and let me say that I'm glad that guy isn't on the Orioles. I'd never learn how to spell his name. Manny singled on the first pitch (he does love the first pitch; it was his third one-pitch AB of the day) then with two outs, Matt Wieters put a cap on his excellent afternoon on the plate. He already had three hits, all singles, and he added his fourth in the form of a home run. It was Matt's 20th of the year, giving the Orioles four hitters with 20 or more home runs.
Wieters' homer made the score 7-2, so Jim Johnson sat down and instead Brian Matusz came into the ballgame. Honestly, this is ridiculous. For one thing, JJ hasn't pitched since August 29th so he could use a day's work. For another, he was ALREADY warm! Anyway, Matusz had a fine inning. He got two quick outs before giving up a double to Michael Brantley, but he struck out Cabrera to end the game.