The starting pitching was on point again as Brian Matusz allowed one run over six innings for the team's seventh straight quality start, paving the way for the O's sixth win in the past seven games. Thanks to a blown save by the "closer," Alfredo Simon, the game went to extra innings where Brian Roberts was the hero, hitting a fastball from J.J. Putz onto the flag court for his first home run of the year and the walk-off win.
As had been the case for much of this series, the O's had trouble figuring out the White Sox starting pitching, scoring just two runs on starter Edwin Jackson. In the sixth inning, Ty Wigginton hit his18th home run of the year to tie score at one. After Wiggy's home run, Luke Scott singled to right and Adam Jones hit a sharp ground ball to third base that Sox 3B Dayan Viciendo couldn't field. Felix Pie followed that with a single to left, bringing Matt Wieters to the plate with the bases juiced. He didn't exactly come through, hitting a ground ball to first. Luckily for the O's, Konerko decided to tag first before throwing home, taking away the force and allowing Scott to beat the tag.
After the mental lapse by Konerko, Cesar Izturis grounded out to end the inning. They didn't come close to scoring again in regulation.
Matusz's only run surrendered came in the third inning when Juan Pierre, who had reached on a HBP, scored on Alex Rios' double. Matusz cruised through the fourth and fifth innings and worked through a sixth inning leadoff double to hold the lead. Koji Uehara pitched the 7th and 8th innings and looked absolutely fantastic. He needed just sixteen pitches to get six outs, then gave way to Simon for the ninth.
Including tonight and going back to 27 July against the Blue Jays, Simon has given up fourteen hits (four home runs) and nine earned runs in 7.1 innings. Simply put, he stinks, and tonight was no different. The first batter he faced, Paul Konerko, hit the first pitch he saw into the left field seats to tie the game at two. Simon followed that with a walk to Carlos Quentin, and that was it for him. Mike Gonzalez relieved him and kept the White Sox from scoring again. He and Matt Albers combined for a scoreless tenth, setting the stage for Baltimore's favorite little dude, Brian Roberts.
Brian has hit one other walk-off home run in his career, and it was a memorable one, inspiring haiku during a crazy time when the Orioles were actually contenders. Tonight's was less important given the team's place in the standings, but served as another small piece of hope to go with what we've seen this team do since last Monday. Back on 28 June 2005, Brian Roberts led off the tenth inning and didn't bother taking, hitting the first pitch he saw out of the park. He waited until the second pitch tonight, but the result was the same. Pretty good way to end the homestand, don't you think? The Orioles head to Cleveland tomorrow for three games and we'll see if the Orioles Magic continues on the road. I leave you with this:
3 August 2010 - Jeremy Guthrie - 7 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 2 K
4 August 2010 - Brian Matusz - 6 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K
5 August 2010 - Jake Arrieta - 7.2 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K
6 August 2010 - Brade Bergesen - 7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K
7 August 2010 - Kevin Millwood - 6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K
8 August 2010 - Jeremy Guthrie - 8 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K
9 August 2010 - Brian Matusz - 6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K
47.2 IP, 1.89 ERA, 8 BB, 23 K
Your move, Jake Arrieta.