First let me say: piss-poor showing, Tampa Bay Rays. The lowly, sad-sack Orioles go out and take three out of four from the Red Sox and you can't even win one freaking game in New York? Not one? I know the Yankees are better than the Red Sox, but get it together! You don't deserve to go to the playoffs.
Ok, now that I had have out of my system, how 'bout dem O's? Three out of four in Boston! This team isn't rolling over, no sir. They have now won three consecutive series, the first time they've done that this entire season.
Josh Beckett vs. Tommy Hunter was not supposed to be a match up that favored the Orioles. But the Orioles don't care! Mark Reynolds especially doesn't care, as he bashed two home runs tonight, numbers 35 and 36 on the year. Do you know who the last Oriole to hit 35 HR in a season was? It was the much maligned Albert Belle, all the way back in 1999. Belle hit 37 that year.
Reynolds first home run came in the top of the second inning. The solo shot gave the Orioles a 1-0 lead that Tommy Hunter gave back in the bottom of the third inning. Carl Crawford tripled to right field to start the inning, the beginning of a big night for him. After Hunter walked Marco Scutaro, Jason Varitek grounded out to second base, knocking in Crawford. The inning have potential to be a big one as Jacoby Ellsbury singled after that, but thankfully Mike Aviles grounded into a double play to end the inning.
Crawford came through again in the fourth inning. With Adrian Gonzalez and Dustin Pedroia on base, he doubled to deep left-center field. The two-RBI double gave the Red Sox a 3-1 lead, and they added one more in the fifth inning on an RBI single from David Ortiz.
At the end of the fifth inning the score was 4-1 and though that wasn't an insurmountable lead, with Beckett on the mound it didn't look good for the Orioles. But then something really cool happened with the pitching: it got good. Ortiz's RBI single came with two outs in the fifth inning, and from then until the end of the game, Orioles pitching allowed just one more base runner. It, of course, came from Crawford, who singled with one out in the sixth. But that was it.
The shutdown performance from the sixth through ninth innings gave the Orioles offense the chance to fight back and take the lead. So kudos to Tommy Hunter, Clay Rapada, Willie Eyre, and Jim Johnson.
In the top of the sixth inning, Robert Andino singled with out out and stole second base. That put him in scoring position for J.J. Hardy, who lined a single up the middle. 4-2 O's!
I mentioned Reynolds hit two home runs tonight, and the second came in the seventh inning. Matt Wieters singled, but was erased on a fielder's choice by Adam Jones. Still, there was one runner on for Reynolds, who smacked the ball over the Green Monster to tie the game.
Josh Beckett started the eighth inning, but he didn't finish it. He retired Andino on a pop up for the first out, but then a single from Hardy and an automatic double from Nick Markakis put runners on second and third. Alfredo Aceves, the Red Sox normally reliable relief pitcher, came in with the task of recording two outs without allowing the runners in scoring position to score. He failed. Vlad singled to center, knocking in both runs and giving the O's a 6-2 lead.
With that the Orioles just needed six outs without allowing three runs, and they did it. Rapada got Ortiz out to start the eighth, then Willie Eyre came in and recorded two ground outs. Jim Johnson pitched a perfect ninth, getting three straight ground outs to secure the win.
Tomorrow the Orioles start a four-game series in Detroit, followed by three more against the Red Sox at home to end the season.