The Orioles proved tonight that effective pitching (not to mention an opposing offense that isn't very good) can overcome a lot. Namely, it can overcome the Orioles hitting into four double plays, scoring just three runs on thirteen hits, and a combined total of thirteen runners left on base. The Orioles offense was less than impressive tonight for sure, but they were picked up by their pitching staff, who hasn't looked too shabby in the last week or so (the starters at least).
Joel Pineiro started for the Angels tonight, and the Orioles hit him but just couldn't get the runners across the plate. They had base runners in each of the first three innings, but they couldn't score until the fourth when Adam Jones lined his 17th home run of the year just over the wall in left field. That cut the Angels' lead to one, and the O's went ahead one inning later.
Back-to-back singles from Robert Andino and Craig Tatum (I KNOW!) got things started in the fifth, and Andino moved to third base on a fly ball from J.J. Hardy. That brought Markakis to the plate, and Nick lined a single up the middle to tie the game. Tatum moved to third on the hit and then scored on a sacrifice fly from Jones. That gave the O's a one-run lead, and that is rarely safe in the hands of the Orioles pitching staff. The Orioles couldn't plate anymore runs despite runners in the sixth and seventh innings (double plays, man. They're the worst).
You never know what you're going to get with Brad Bergesen, and when he gave up a two-run home run in the first inning to none other than Vernon Wells, it looked like we might be in for a long night. Happily that wasn't the case. He allowed one runner each in the second and third innings, but Craig Tatum threw them both out trying to steal. How about that Tater, doing his best Matt Wieters impression behind the plate!
Bergesen gave up a two-out double to Alberto Callaspo in the fourth inning, but retired Howie Kendrick on a grounder to first base to end the inning. He retired the side in order in the fifth inning and went into the sixth inning down by one run.
Erick Aybar led off the sixth with a double down the left-field line, and when Bergesen followed that with a walk to Torii Hunter, it seemed like the O's one-run lead wouldn't last long. But Bergy got out of it with a strikeout and two pop outs. Well done, 3E! Bergesen only threw 80 pitches in his six innings, but given that it was 102 degrees tonight and he looked to be tiring, I won't put up too much of a fuss.
Jim Johnson took over in the seventh inning and Kendrick dropped a perfect bunt to third for a single. Not much Reynolds could have done there. But JJ didn't let himself be fazed as he induced a ground ball from Russell Branyan for the 4-6-3 double play. One ground ball to second by Peter Bourjos later and JJ was out of the inning with just seven pitches.
Koji Uehara replaced Johnson and needed only nine pitches to retire the side in order. Word has it there were a number of scouts in the stands tonight, so it's nice that Koji put on a good show for them. With the O's two best relievers having been used in the seventh and eighth innings, you know what that means! Kevin Gregg, your closer, came in to shut things down in the ninth. But did he prevail?
He did! But he made it interesting first, otherwise he wouldn't be the Kevin Gregg we all know. Bobby Abreu and Vernon Wells grounded out for two quick outs, with Reynolds making a fantastic barehanded play to retire Wells. That brought Callaspo to the plate, who lined a double to left-center. That put the tying run on second base, so naturally Gregg immediately went 3-0 on the next batter, Kendrick. As all of Birdland prepared for the blown save, Gregg threw two pitches in the zone for called strikes (Kendrick has obviously heard of this Gregg and his penchant for walks), then got Kendrick to swing through a fastball for strike three. O's win! O's win!