After 4 consecutive losses, there was nowhere to go but up for the O's. The offense remains quiet and once again has to depend on Nelson Cruz to provide the only runs of the game. The pitching, however, held up the lead tonight thanks to both Wei- Yin Chen and the bullpen. Finally, the O's put an end to their losing streak by beating the Royals 2-1 against a brilliant outing by phenom Yordano Ventura.
The Orioles had an opportunity to score right off the bat, as Nick Markakis and Manny Machado singled to start the game. Ventura settled down and induced a double play by Adam Jones before striking out Chris Davis to end the inning. The O's scored their only runs of the game in the fourth inning on Nelson Cruz's 12 HR of the season. This came after Chris Davis walked to start the inning and gave the O's a 2-0 lead. The O's bats are relatively quiet facing Ventura, who struck out the side in both the 5th and 6th.
The O's had several chances to pad their lead in the 7th and 8th inning. In the 7th, J.J. Hardy and Ryan Flaherty singled with one out. This chased Ventura out of the game and Tim Collins entered the game. After David Lough's strikeout, Markakis hit a groundball in the hole between SS and 3B. Unfortunately, LF Alex Gordon was playing as close to the infield as I have ever seen. Despite this, Hardy was still sent home and the throw by Gordon beat Hardy to the plate by a mile. Luckily this run does not prove costly in the game. In the 8th, Machado and Jones singled to start the inning. However, Kelvin Herrera came in and struck out both Davis and Cruz before getting Clevenger to ground out to first.
Wei-Yin Chen was quietly masterful tonight despite registering only one strikeout. He only faced one major problem in the 4th. He allowed 3 singles with one out to load the bases. Next in the lineup was lefty killer Danny Valencia who murdered lefties for the O's last season. Valencia hit a deep fly ball to LF that appeared to have cleared the wall to the audience in the stand. Luckily, the ball fell into Lough's glove just in front of the wall and the Royals only scored a single run on the sacrifice fly. Chen settled down and retired Giavotella on a shallow fly ball to RF to end the inning.
The bullpen was perfect today, literally.In 3.2 IP, the relievers did not allow a single baserunner. Darren O'Day was first in line. He relieved Chen after Chen walked Salvador Perez on 10 pitches and allowed a bloop single to Gordon in the 6th. O'Day struck out Valencia on a slider out of the zone and retired Johnny Giavotella on a fly ball to RF. He pitched a perfect 7th and handed the ball to Troy Patton to start the 8th. Patton struck out Eric Hosmer before Ryan Webb replaced him and finished the 8th.
The last man out of the bullpen tonight is not Tommy Hunter but Zach Britton. It is unknown whether Britton will be the closer from now on, or if this is just a temporary break for Hunter. Britton did not disappoint and had a 1-2-3 inning on three groundballs. Hopefully we can trust our bullpen to close the lead as drama-free as they did tonight.