The Orioles unleashed yet another offensive suck-fest with Carl Pavano needing only 102 pitches to get through a full nine innings of work against them. On the other end of the ball, coming back from the disabled list was Kevin Millwood, who gave up three runs in the first inning that proved to be all the Twins would need. Tonight, though, was one of those games where the actual baseball was a sideshow to the circus that was in town.
In the top of the seventh inning, J.J. Hardy led off for the Twins with a single. On an apparent blown sign, he was caught hanging between first and second base. Craig Tatum bounced the throw to second and Hardy retreated back to first. The throw from second beat Hardy by approximately seventy miles and replays showed that while he attempted some acrobatics to avoid the tag he was in fact tagged before reaching the base somewhere between one and seventeen times. To no one's surprise, the first-base umpire blew the call and ruled Hardy safe. Any ordinary night that would have been that. But this was not an ordinary night.
Ty Wigginton erupted at the blown call. It was like every ounce of frustration that this season full of losing had built up inside him suddenly exploded outward at that moment. He was mad as hell and he wasn't going to take it any more. Jumping up and down in a way reminiscent of a strutting rooster, Wiggy unleashed what I can only assume was a legendary stream of bilious invective and was tossed by crew chief Gary Darling (who'd blown the call) in short order. Interim manager Juan Samuel ran out of the dugout and had to restrain Wiggy from turning into The Incredible Hulk. As Wieters Wieners described it this is probably the funniest thing that's happened in an O's game all season.
Two batters later, Hardy scored, and the home plate umpire ejected pitching coach Rick Kranitz, who seemingly also uttered one of the "magic words" in his attempt to protest the earlier poor call. Samuel was up and out of the dugout again, tossed just as quickly, and threw and kicked his hat around a bit before retreating down into the tunnel, having been blessedly released from the curse of managing this sad team for the remainder of the game. It was not an Earl Weaver-esque tirade by any means, but it was one of those times where the manager just has to get tossed on general principle - and while I personally felt the time to do that was after Wiggy blew his stack, it's plain the frustration reached Juan as well. Thanks to IHeartMASN, who is awesome, you can view video of the bizarre, and hilarious, triple-ejection here.
As for the actual baseball game, it sucked. We sucked. You already know this by now. We got shut out by Carl Pavano, he of the 9 wins from a $40 million NYY contract, he of the strained buttock, and so on. Of the five hits the O's mustered, none were in scoring position. Meanwhile, Millwood gave up 5 ER in 6.1 IP, which is probably about what we should expect from him for the rest of the season. About all the good you can say is that at least he didn't get knocked out of the game as early as it first looked he might - and he saved the bullpen a little more pain than it could have otherwise had.
Tomorrow, we'll see Jeremy Guthrie on the mound for the Orioles. Brian Duensing is currently listed as the starter for the Twins. He's kept a 1.67 ERA in 39 bullpen appearances thus far in the season and is making his first start of the year. We can only hope that we'll go in with a patient approach, tire him out and get into the bullpen... ahahahaha... I'm so funny.