You guys? I have something to tell you. I almost don't want to say it out loud because I'm afraid I might scare it away. But I have to tell you anyway. I think maybe, just maybe, Jake Arrieta is going to be a very good pitcher. Tonight he pitched seven innings and gave up just one run. He walked two and struck out eight and had a GO-FO of 8-3. He's still a work in progress, to be sure, but it's possible that his starts are becoming the ones I look forward to the most every week (I still love you, Zach Britton!).
Arrieta allowed a single in the first inning, then got into a little bit of trouble in the second. Jeff Francoeur led off the inning with a home run (I don't even know what to say about Francoeur's transformation at the plate this year). Then with two outs, Arrieta walked the Royals' eight and nine hitters. No, Jake! After a visit from the pitching coach, Arrieta struck out Mike Aviles to end the inning and it was smooth sailing from there. Arrieta didn't allow another baserunner until there was one out in the sixth, and he got that guy erased on a double play. He tossed a 1-2-3 inning in the seventh and called it a night. Just a fabulous performance.
The Orioles offense didn't have quite a much success, unfortunately. And can you blame them? This guy who pitched for the Royals is one of the filthiest pitcher in baseball today. I mean, he just won a Cy Young a couple years ago and -- wait, what? Zack Greinke was traded to the Brewers? Who? Kyle Davies?? The Kyle Davies that has never been successful in the major leagues, ever? And who started tonight with a 7.98 ERA? THAT'S the guy who shut down the Orioles? Wow, it's worse than I thought.
Davies retired the side in order in the third and worked around a Reynolds walk in the fourth. The O's tried to get something cooking with two outs in the fifth inning as Lee took his team leading thirteenth walk of the season and Luke Scott singled, but Adam Jones popped out to the first baseman to end the threat.
Davies began to look more like Davies in the seventh inning. After a Brian Roberts ground out, Markakis connected with a curveball and sent it over the fence for his third home run of the year. Yay, Nick! It was a good night for the slumping right fielder. Davies responded to the adversity of the home run by hitting Lee and his night was finished. He was replaced by Nathan Adcock who allowed a single to Luke Scott but no more runs.
A great pitching performance by Arrieta and an underwhelming day by the Orioles' offense led to a 3-1 score going into the eighth inning, and Buck Showalter called on the normally reliable Jim Johnson to hold the lead. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Johnson didn't have a great night.
Alcides Escobar singled with one out and then Adam Jones made the play of the night without even touching the ball. Aviles smoked a ball into the left-center field that rolled all the way to the wall before Jones or Felix Pie could get to it. In fact, it rolled under the edge of the warning track and the second that it did, Jones threw his hands up in the air and motioned as such. Escobar had already rounded third and easily scored, and Aviles just kept on running as well. There was a bit of confusion in the broadcast booth as the second base umpire ran out to center, and it turns out that Adam Jones knew exactly what the ground rules were for a ball that went under the edge of the padding. Because he didn't touch it, the hit was ruled a ground rule double and the runners had to stay at second and third, preserving the Orioles lead. What a heads up play by Jones and a lucky break for the Orioles.
The next batter, Melky Cabrera, grounded out to second base and Escobar scored from third to make the score 3-2. The new and improved Mike Gonzalez came in to face Alex Gordon and quickly got him to fly out to left field to end the inning.
Everyone's favorite closer, Kevin Gregg, came on to get the save in the ninth. Did he make it easy? What do you think? Gregg went to 3-0 on Billy Butler before working the count to 3-2 and inducing a ground ball to third base for the first out. He then walked, of all people, Jeff Francoeur. Frenchy may be improved this year but he still doesn't take many walks. Except, of course, when Gregg is pitching. There were no more shenanigans from Gregg, though, as he got the next two batters to hit routine fly balls to the outfield to finish the game.
Rubber game tomorrow! The Orioles will send Chris Tillman to the mound to face off against their old friend Bruce Chen. I hate to see Chen do poorly, but I'll make an exception in this case.