The Orioles rode an excellent start by Kevin Gausman to an easy win tonight, backing his seven-inning, one-run performance with six runs of support thanks in part to home runs by Adam Jones and David Lough. The A's starting pitcher, Sonny Gray, has been very good against a number of teams in his short career. It's a nice turnaround from the norm, which is awful pitchers turning into aces against the O's.
Adam Jones put the O's on the board in the very first inning with an opposite field home run, the first of two hits on the day for him. For the next four innings, Gray looked like the pitcher we were expecting to see as he retired 12 of 13 batters after the Jones home run, the only base runner Ryan Flaherty, who walked in the third inning. But in the fifth he walked David Lough ahead of noted slugger Caleb Joseph. Joseph doubled in Lough, then came in to score himself on a single from Markakis one out later. Gray then walked Manny Machado to move Markakis up to second base, putting him in scoring position for Jones. Jones singled him in to give the Orioles a 4-1 lead.
Gray came back to start the sixth inning, but after striking out Nelson Cruz he walked J.J. Hardy and was pulled from the game. Yes, that's right. Gray walked Flaherty, Machado, and Hardy in the game. That's impressive.
With Gray out of the game the Orioles got to face Jim Johnson for the first time ever. JJ came into the game to a mix of cheers and boos from the crowd of 44K+ at Camden Yards. To those of you who booed him, shame on you. JJ was a good Oriole for many years and he didn't choose to leave. For me personally, it's been tough watching him struggle. Of course, that didn't mean I wanted him to do well in this case. He's on the other team now, after all.
Well, I didn't have to worry about Johnson doing well against the Oriole. The first batter he faced, Lough, homered with Hardy on base. Oh, JJ. Of all people! Johnson didn't allow any more runs, but he gave up a single and walk before finishing the inning. He slammed his glove in the dugout then sat alone in his failure in the third base dugout.
The Orioles didn't score any more runs, but they didn't need to. Kevin Gausman was brilliant in his start tonight, most assuredly earning himself another start in the big leagues. He was routinely hitting 96-97 mph with his fastball, and the only run he gave up in his seven innings pitched was on a home run to Coco Crisp, who seems to have sold his soul to the devil for eternal success against the Orioles (AKA the Andy Pettitte Package).
Gausman had two tough innings, the second and the sixth. In both he allowed the first two batters to reach, and in both he got his act together and didn't allow a run. In the second he induced a double play ball to get out of trouble and in the sixth, with runners on second and third and one out, he struck out the next two batters swinging to end the inning.
Other than that, it was pretty smooth sailing for Goose. He finished the game with an easy 1-2-3 seventh inning and walked off the mound to thunderous applause. It's been disheartening to see the way the Orioles have yanked Gausman around this season, but I gotta say, tonight at least, it doesn't seem to have affected him.
Brian Matusz started the eighth inning in relief and was not good. He got an out but then walked Eric Sogard in front of Crisp, who doubled down the left field line to put runners at second and third. Come on, Matusz! You walked the four eyes to get to the soul seller? Not cool.
Darren O'Day came in to tray and clean up Matusz's mess, but didn't. A single up the middle scored both runs, but O'Day redeemed himself with two strikeouts and a good ninth inning to finish the game.
O's win! And they win on a night when the Blue Jays, Red Sox, Yankees, and Rays all lost, so that's extra nice. I know there were a lot of Camden Chatters in the stands, and they sure did see a good game.
The O's and A's play again tomorrow in the rubber match, with Ubaldo Jimenez pitching against Scott Kazmir. Game time is 1:35. See you then!