The story of the game is summed up in this statistic: Rangers starter Cliff Lee has allowed 13 home runs on the season and seven of them have come against the Baltimore Orioles, including four that were hit today in the O's 8-6 victory over Texas. Luke Scott and Ty Wigginton each crushed pitches a long way, but the star of the day was Josh Bell, who followed up his first major league home run in the 3rd inning by hitting another one to nearly the exact same place in the 4th inning.
The Orioles' play against Texas this season has been fodder for those of us who bemoan being stuck in the AL East. No surprise either, because I heard on the post-game show on the radio last night that none of the other AL teams outside of the East have a winning record against the East. It's not all just Buck mojo, because we saw from the pre-All Star sweep that even the Samuel era could rack up some wins against the Rangers.
Lee entered today with 147 strikeouts to 10 walks. That is an absolutely ridiculous ratio. Once again, the Orioles came out swinging, and though for two innings it looked like he was going to just mow us down all day, when the bottom of the order came up to the plate that all changed. Felix Pie got the O's first base hit and came home two batters later when Josh Bell hit his first career homer. It wasn't a cheap one either.
The lead was short lived as Brad Bergesen gave back the two runs in the next half-inning. It wasn't entirely his fault, because the scenario of "Vladimir Guerrero tags from third off a shallow fly to Nick Markakis" isn't going to happen often. But Nick didn't get a great throw and so it was 2-2. But, unlike so many other games this season, the Orioles didn't decide early runs were enough. In the bottom of the fourth, Wigginton and Scott went back-to-back with a pair of mammoth blasts. Wiggy's almost took out a cop on the ramp between the bullpens and Scott's was about a dozen rows back in the bleachers.
Nor were they done with the offense. After Pie and Craig Tatum singled, Bell came back to the plate. For an encore act he hit a ball to basically the same spot as his previous home run, sending the Orioles to a 7-2 lead. He very nearly added a third home run in the 6th, as his fly ball bounced about three inches down on the fence next to the Esskay Out-of-Town Scoreboard. So he settled for a long single, his third hit of the day, and eventually scored on a swinging bunt by Julio Lugo that Rangers reliever Scott Feldman couldn't field cleanly. The O's had chased Lee after 5.2 IP - his first start all season where he didn't at least make it into the 7th inning.
Bergy and the bullpen tried to make it interesting, with a mistake pitch to Josh Hamilton turning into another home run in the vicinity of the same cop (who tried to catch the ball on the fly as it landed near him) making the score 8-5 and a shaky Michael Gonzalez appearance that featured only a passing familiarity with the strike zone. But none of that mattered because Koji Uehara came in and closed out the game. After a Hamilton single, Guerrero came up to the plate as the tying run, but Koji's crafty Japanese stuff was too much for Vlad the Impaler and he struck out swinging on virtually the same pitch he swung through for strikes one and two.
It was Koji's first save in the MLB, and if he's going to make a habit of pitching like that, it may not be his last.
With the win today, the O's guaranteed at least a series split with the Rangers with the fourth game tomorrow. Kevin Millwood will be looking to mentor his way to victory with Tommy Hunter on the mound against him for Texas.