The Orioles gave the Angels a good old fashioned beating tonight, scoring 16 runs on 19 hits with an amazing 9 doubles. Leading the charge was young Felix Pie, who became the 4th Oriole in history to hit for the cycle. Brooks Robinson did it 1960, Cal Ripken did it in 1984, Aubrey Huff did it in 2007, and Felix Pie did it tonight. The offensive explosion by the O's made it relatively easy for Chris Tillman to finally earn his first major league win.
Tillman ran into trouble in the first and his defense both helped him out and let him down. He walked the leadoff batter, Chone Figgins, but Matt Wieters threw him out trying to steal. Tillman then walked Maicer Izturis and struck out Bobby Abreu. With two outs, Vlad Guerrero swung at a pitch that was literally on the ground. He popped it into short left field. Felix Pie raced in, Cesar Izturis raced out, but there was no way either of them could get it. It fell for a single with M. Izturis stopped at third, but Pie threw the ball to first where no one was covering. The baseball hit against the wall on the first base side allowing Izturis to score and Guerrero to go to 2nd. Guerrero scored on a double by the next batter, Juan Rivera. Rivera got greedy, though, and tried to go for three. Adam Jones gunned the ball to third where Melvin Mora made a diving tag for the third out of the first inning.
After the first Tillman settled down quite a bit. He retired the Angels in order in the 2nd and 3rd, and in the 4th inning his defense helped him out again. After a leadoff home run by Bobby Abreu, Tillman found himself in trouble. Another double by Rivera and a single by Kendry Morales put runners on 2nd and 3rd with one out. Erick Aybar hit a bounding ball to Izturis at SS who threw home to start a rundown at third. Matt Wieters chased Rivera back towards third and tagged him out. Morales was able to get to third but Tillman struck out Mike Napoli to end the inning. He followed the 4th up with two more 3-up, 3-down innings and went out for the 7th inning with a 6 run lead. He quickly retired the first two batters but after allowing a cheap single to Napoli, Dave Trembley pulled him. I would have left him in for one more batter. He had a 6 run lead, after all. But regardless, the kid pitched a hell of a game. He walked to the dugout to a well deserved standing O by the hometown crowd.
While very good, Tillman's performance was overshadowed by the gaudiness that was the Orioles offense. It started in the bottom of the first, when the O's batted around and scored 6 runs on 6 hits and 2 walks, including Felix Pie's first hit on the evening (a double). As he told Amber in his post game interview, when he got to the plate in the first inning he was thinking that he was pissed off for making a stupid mistake in the field and he wanted to make up for it. And boy did he.
Pie came to bat again in the third and he cranked a home run to the right-center field seats. They'd get another solo run in the 4th inning on a sac fly by Matt Wieters that scored Adam Jones. One more single run came in the 5th as Brian Roberts doubled in Cesar Izturis.
Then came the bottom of the 7th. Felix Pie led off the inning by legging out a single on a grounder to shortstop and scoring on Cesar Izturis' triple. Brian Roberts, Adam Jones, and Nick Markakis hit back-to-back-to-back doubles, scoring three more. After a Huff HBP and a Nolan Reimold strikeout, Matt Wieters finally joined the hit parade with an RBI single so that all 9 O's in the lineup had at least one hit. Mora flew out and with two outs and two runners on, Felix Pie stepped to the plate for his second AB of the inning.
According to Felix's interview, he wasn't thinking about hitting for the cycle, but I sure was. I was thinking about it, everyone else in the game thread was thinking about it, Gary and Jim were thinking about it, all the fans in the stands were thinking about it, even Mike Scioscia was thinking about it. I don't know that any of us actually thought it would happen, but as soon as Felix drove the ball into the right-center field gap I leapt from my couch shouting, "Run! Run Felix!!!" And he did. He flew around the bases as the ball came to stop at the base of the wall in the outfield, and Felix Pie became the 4th Oriole in history to hit for the cycle. The crowd at Camden Yards went wild for Felix as he stood on third, and after a moment he gave them a brief wave. This angered Scioscia who glared at Felix from the third base dugout, to which I say, "Shove it, Mike Scioscia." Felix, who's nicer than me, had this to say: "I apologize to Mike Scioscia and the players on the other team. It's part of the game, emotion, but I showed too much. I was excited, but it was too much emotion on the field."
It was definitely Felix Pie's night (his 4 hits yielded 3 runs and 4 RBI), but it was a banner night for a number of other Orioles as well. Brian Roberts went 4-6 with 3 doubles, 2 runs, and 2 RBI. Adam Jones had 2 hits (including a double), a walk, and scored three runs. Aubrey Huff was 2-3 with a walk. Number 9 hitter Cesar Izturis also contributed 3 hits and 3 RBI.
Today was a good day for Orioles baseball. I hope Felix and all his friends are able to enjoy the victory and ride the momentum into tomorrow's game, where Brian Matusz makes his Camden Yards debut against John Lackey.