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Pitching, Defense and a 3-Run Homer (and Ronnie Belliard)

Nolan Reimold, proving who this team's #5 hitter should be.
Nolan Reimold, proving who this team's #5 hitter should be.

Dave Trembley said the infield defense was the best tonight that it's been all year, and the Orioles needed every out of it Saturday night.

Sure, the final score was 6-3. But the O's trailed for the first half of this game, and only some defensive gems (and four double playes turned) from 3B Melvin Mora, SS Robert Andino, 2B Brian Roberts and some fine catches by 1B Aubrey Huff kept the O's in the game against the Washington Nationals.

I missed the first inning, but apparently, it was the same as missing the first death from the Black Plague and just waiting for the rest of the village to succumb. Jeremy Guthrie looked bad, 39 pitches bad, and rescue seemed impossible. But Ronnie Belliard, bless his heart, might as well have had a Orioles jersey on while at the plate tonight. To wit:

First inning, bases loaded, 1 out: R. Belliard grounded into double play shortstop to second to first, J. Bard out at second

Fourth inning, man on 2B, 1 out: - R. Belliard grounded out to third (runner does not advance)

Sixth inning, bases loaded, 0 out: - R. Belliard grounded into fielder's choice, A. Dunn out at home, J. Willingham to third, J. Bard to second

Ninth inning, lead-off batter: R. Belliard popped out to third

God bless you, Ronnie Belliard.

Guthrie continued for four more innings, and while never looking impressive with his 2-0 deficit, which soon became 3-0 in the 4th inning, he managed to get through five innings on 95 pitches. Dave Trembley said after the game he told Guthrie as soon as the team took the lead, he was out. But if the team still trailed or was tied going into the 6th, he'd keep Guthrie in. Discuss among yourselves, class.

As far as the rest of the O's, the first 5 runs came on 3 home runs, with Gregg Zaun (?!?!?!?) hitting a solo, as did Aubrey Huff later in the game, and Nolan Reimold giving the O's the lead on a homer that led to the strangest reaction I've ever seen a LF have as Josh Willingham just spread his arms, put his palms in the air and practially screamed "I have no idea where the ball is!" as it traveled 30 feet over his head into the 4th row of the bleachers.

Jeremy Guthrie did indeed recover from his 39-pitch 1st inning to last through 5.0 IP, and while Brian Bass lasted just 3 batters, all of whom reached, Matt Albers was the beneificary of Ronnie Belliard's ineptitude with the bat and further benefited from Austin Kearns' inning-ending double play. The O's tacked on extra runs with Aubrey Huff's solo homer and Brian Roberts' sacrifice fly to drive in Melvin Mora, who seems to be on a mission to reclaim his #5 lineup position. Ain't gonna happen, Memlo. Be happy you're at #7.

We have a plethora of choice for Most Birdland Player, and as tempting as it is to add Ronnie Belliard, I must refrain. But feel free to express your appreciation for his efforts in helping the Orioles win in the comments below.

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