The performance of the Orioles was what many had expected on a regular basis heading into the 2014 season. It was solid. It was fun. It was how a team that can compete in the playoffs should play.
It began early. Starter Wei-Yin Chen breezed through the first inning in order. Then, the Orioles offense got to work. Following a ground out on the first pitch from Rubby de la Rosa's hand by Nick Markakis, Steve Pearce walked; what a pro. Adam Jones cashed in immediately by sending a lazer double to left field. Pearce trotted in from first base to make it 1-0 Orioles. Nelson Cruz would then fly out to right field. Jones advanced on the play. Chris Davis would not allow de la Rosa to escape. He took a 1-1, 86 mph changeup to deep right and into the stands just left of the out-of-town scoreboard. 3-0 O's.
Things would stay quiet for the next two innings. The Red Sox couldn't get a single base runner. Chen had a perfect game through three innings. He extended it by two batters before Dustin Pedroia came to the plate for the second time. He had Chen's number, entering the game with a 12-for-24 line against the southpaw. He would end the perfect game and no hitter with one swing of the bat that sent a ball to the right field fence. Markakis picked the ball up bare-handed and fired a one-hopper to J.J. Hardy covering second to nail Pedroia trying to stretch his single.
The Baltimore bats were back at it in the bottom of the fourth. Hardy sent an infield single to the opposing shortstop. Jonathan Schoop followed with a single of his own before Nick Hundley sent a soft liner into right field, scoring Hardy and extending the lead to four.
The Orioles were denied another run on a close call. Markakis hit a ground ball up the middle that seemed destined for the outfield grass. Xander Bogaerts dove to make a nice stop and tossed in to Pedroia covering second base. Orginally, Hundley was ruled safe coming into second, scoring Schoop. However, upon further review, it appeared that the ball did reach Pedroia just before the foot of the Orioles catcher touched the bag.
Boston started to hit in the next few innings, getting a runner on in each of the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings. However, they would each be wiped out by a double play to end any chance of a rally. This added to the Orioles league-leading number of double plays turned; a grand-total of 77 now.
Following the top of the seventh inning, the rain began to pour and pour hard. The grounds crew got the tarp on quickly and the waiting game began. An hour and 38 minutes later it was still raining, but only slightly and the game resumed. Darren O'Day took over for Chen and pitched a scoreless eighth inning.
Chris Capuano went to the hill in the bottom of the inning for the BoSox and made a meal of it. It started with a hard single up the middle off the bat of Nelson Cruz. Davis followed with a double, advancing Cruz to third. After a Hardy pop-up, Capuano intentionally walked the struggling Manny Machado to load the bases. Then, the balls kept coming. These were of the unintentional variety and led to a Schoop walk, scoring Cruz to make it 5-0. Hundley struck out and then Markakis worked the O's third walk of the inning. Davis scored to make it 6-0.
Zach Britton came on to slam the door in a non-save situation and did just that, putting in an easy 1-2-3 inning to wrap up the Orioles victory.
The story of the game was Wei-Yin Chen. He was great, throwing some 95 mph cheese with pinpoint precision. It was a performance that was, dare I say it, Tom Glavine-esque? Not to mention he was at just 87 pitches when the weather put an end to his night. Had that not happened, he may have gone the distance.
You may want to read this twice, the Orioles took five walks as a team. That's right, five! Yeah, they struck out ten times. That's not as important right now. Meanwhile, Chen, O'Day and Britton gave up no base on balls. Simply stunning.
The series ends with Oriole pitchers allowing just one run over 27 innings. It's pretty disappointing that it doesn't translate to a three game sweep, but the Orioles will happily take the series win and a pitching staff hitting it's groove into another key matchup tomorrow night.
The Orioles look to make it back-to-back wins tomorrow at Camden Yards against the division-leading Toronto Blue Jays. Toronto, once streaking, has hit the skids. Kevin Gausman takes the hill for the O's while the wily old southpaw, Mark Buehrle will oppose and try to keep his good season going. First pitch is 7:05 p.m.
- The last time the Orioles allowed one run or less in a three game series at home was in October of 1995.
- Chen lowered his ERA to 3.76 on the season.
- It was the first two walk game of Schoop's career.
- Machado is now in an 0-for-18 slump.
- Hardy had his seventh error of the season.
- In Bowie, Nolan Reimold went 0-for4 with two K's
- In the same game, Miguel Gonzalez's line: 4.2 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 SO and a wild pitch