Watching tonight's game and the second consecutive White Sox bullpen meltdown, I said to my boyfriend, "It's like watching the Orioles play the Orioles!" And happily, the Orioles prevailed. Er, that would be the Orioles Orioles, not the White Sox Orioles. Am I confusing anyone?
The Orioles got on the board first tonight, as Brian Roberts started off the game with a double off of pitcher Philip Humber. Roberts moved to third on a fly ball by Nick Markakis, then scored on a wild pitch. That was the beginning of a very rough night behind the plate for A.J. Pierzynski, not that anyone feels sorry for him since he's pretty universally known as one of the biggest jerks in baseball.
The O's second run of the night came in third inning off the bat of the super hot Robert Andino. Andino took Humber deep for his first home run of the year. Also worth noting in the third inning was that Nick Markakis struck out but reached first as the ball got away from Pierzyski. I swear, I've seen more dropped third strikes in the last two games than I saw in an my entire softball season when I was thirteen years old. Get it together, White Sox pitching staff and A.J. Pierzysnki!
After the Andino home run, Humber really settled down. He didn't allow another hit through his seven innings of work, and the only baserunner the Orioles had in the fourth through seventh innings Derrek Lee, who reached on a walk in the sixth. It looked like the Orioles would have to make do with just two runs in trying to win this game, but that was before the White Sox bullpen had its say. But first, let's check in with the O's starting pitcher, Chris Tillman.
Tillman earned his first win of the year tonight in this, his fifth start. Through five innings he allowed just four hits, and really was only in a jam to that point in the third when Mark Teahan and Alexei Ramirez both singled to put two runners on for the dangerous Carlos Quentin, who popped out harmlessly to end the inning.
Tillman started the sixth inning but couldn't get even one out. Back-to-back singles by Ramirez and Quentin and a walk to Paul Konerko loaded the bases and put an end to Tillman's night. Buck Showalter brought in Michael Gonzalez to face the lefty Adam Dunn and I could hear heads exploding all over Birdland. But unlike his previous outings, Gonzalez was actually effective. It's a miracle! Gonzalez struck out Dunn, then got Alex Rios to hit a shallow fly ball to center field. Adam Jones made a good throw to try and catch Ramirez at the plate. It would have been a close call except Jake Fox, filling in for Matt Wieters tonight, couldn't catch the ball. That cut the O's lead to 2-1, but Gonzalez got A.J. Pierzynski to strike out to end the inning and the threat.
Gonzalez came back out for the seventh inning and retired the side in order, racking up two more strikeouts. It was really a great outing for Gonzalez and hopefully a sign of things to come. Although, did anyone else notice that he was moving around more than usual on the mound tonight? It was like he'd forgotten to take his ADD medication or something.
With Gonzalez having incredibly shut down the White Sox for two innings, the Sox turned to Matt Thornton, hoping he'd do the same to the Orioles. Spoiler alert: he sucked. Andino greeted him with a single, then stole second base with Brian Roberts at the plate. Roberts ended up striking out, but Pierzynski AGAIN let the ball get away from him. He then made a horrible throw to first that Adam Dunn couldn't handle. Roberts was safe and Andino scored all the way from second on the play to put the O's up 3-1.
The next batter up was the sad-sack Nick Markakis. Nick hit a slow ground ball that somehow got past the first baseman (Well, it was Adam Dunn, so it's understandable), allowing Roberts to get to third. Thornton then threw a wild pitch on which Nick moved to second. Derrek Lee walked for the second time tonight and again the bases were loaded. Vladimir Guerrero then swung at the first pitch (duh) and hit it sharply to third base. If the infield had been playing normally it would have been an easy out, but they were all playing in and Teahan couldn't make the play. He made a diving try and the ball deflected off his glove and into fair territory. Roberts and Markakis scored with Lee and Vlad ending up on third and second. That brought up Luke Scott, who hit a sacrifice fly to make the score 6-1. Jeff Gray came in to replace Thornton and didn't allow any more runs, but what a putrid inning for the White Sox.
Koji Uehara pitched the final two innings for the O's. He got the White Sox 1-2-3 in the eighth inning, but gave up a home run to Rios and a single to Pierzynski in the ninth. I'm trying to hold back my worries regarding Koji, who has looked way too human for my comfort zone this season.
With the win the Orioles have secured at least a split of the four game series, and tomorrow another good pitching match up looms with Zach Britton vs. Gavin Floyd. See you then!