So it's time for us to all come to terms with the fact that Alfredo Simon is the best pitcher in the Orioles rotation. This is not necessarily praise of Simon, although he has done well lately. Since returning to the rotation, Simon has made two of the best starts the rotation has seen in over a month. Unfortunately, his efforts didn't matter much since the offense wilted in a heat that was oppressive even by Baltimore standards (104 at game time). The Orioles went into the ninth inning down by just a run, but all hopes for a walk-off victory were squashed by Vernon Wells' grand slam off of Kevin Gregg.
In his last start against Cleveland, Simon pitched 7 innings of one-run ball, giving up just two hits and one walk. He wasn't as dominant last night, but he got the job done and ultimately pitched 6.2 innings, again giving up just two runs. The second run scored after he left with Jason Berken on the mound. I'm not ready to jump on the Simon train, but it's certainly refreshing to watch a pitcher who doesn't get the crap beaten out of him on a regular basis, you know?
Ervin Santana, starting for the Angels, shut the Orioles down good. Through the first five innings the Orioles had just one baserunner, which came in the second inning when Luke Scott reached on an error. Their first hit was a Blake Davis double in the sixth, and their only run came in the eighth when a Mark Reynolds walk and a Felix Pie single set J.J. Hardy up for the RBI chance. Hardly lined the ball back up the middle to score Reynolds, but Nick Markakis grounded out to end the rally.
Kevin Gregg came on to pitch the ninth and hold the one-run lead, which is moronic because if he's not going to get the save how is he supposed to muster up any adrenaline? The inning started off with a ground ball to Derrek Lee, who could not live up to his Silky D nickname; he booted the ball to put a runner on with no outs. After Jeff Mathis bunted Mike Trout over to second, Gregg walked Maicer Izturis, he of the 7.3% walk rate. As Torii Hunter was called out on strikes, the runners pulled off a double steal. It's unclear if Wieters would have gotten Trout at third, but either way Reynolds couldn't play the ball. With first base open, Gregg intentionally walked Bobby Abreu to get to Vernon Wells. Hey, that's not a bad idea! Wells and his OBP of .254 will surely be an easy out. Or, would be if Kevin Gregg didn't throw a fastball down the middle. Wells smacked it into the O's bullpen to give the Angels a 6-1 lead. And that was the ballgame, folks. The Orioles went quietly in the ninth and retreated to the cool air conditioned clubhouse.
The Orioles and Angels are back at it tonight as Brad Bergesen and Joel Pineiro take the mound for their teams. Will anyone brave the heat and go see them? I'll be there, sweating myself silly. Bring lots of water!