Well, it was a good run, y'all. But I'm afraid I have to be the one to tell you that the amazing Orioles are finished. The optimists will tell me that they're just slumping, but I'm going to disagree. And you know what? I'm not mad. I didn't expect the Orioles to be good. They gave me pleasure for nearly three months, and that is awesome. I don't know what the rest of the season holds, but I am fairly certain that it is not a playoff spot.
As for tonight's game, it was the same old story. The hitting wasn't good enough, the pitching wasn't good enough. The defense wasn't the worst we've seen, although Wilson Betemit had his usual performance over at third base.
Usually when we get to see Jason Hammel and Wei-Yin Chen pitch in back-to-back games, it's with a favorable outcome. But this time, not so much. Chen was certainly not as bad as Hammel was yesterday, but he gave up three runs in the second inning that would be the difference in the game.
After a fantastic first inning in which he needed only ten pitches, Chen lost it in the second. After a line-drive single to left from the first batter, Jose Lopez, Chen went 3-0 on Michael Brantley and ultimately walked him in five pitches. That set the table for old timer Johnny Damon, who came to the plate with one out and hit a home run to right-center field. Hey! I thought Damon was supposed to stink nowadays. Chen got the next two batters out, but ended up throwing twenty-seven pitches in the inning.
In the meantime, the Orioles offense Oriole'd. J.J. Hardy, whose bat seems like it might be coming around, doubled with one out in the first, but was stranded. Wilson Betemit walked in the second, but was stranded. Xavier Avery (newly promoted!) singled and stole a base in the third, but, repeat after me, was stranded. Matt Wieters singled and THEN STOLE A BASE (I know!), followed by an infield single from Betemit, but both were stranded.
After his horrendous second inning, Chen got it together for awhile. He hit Shin-Soo Choo to start the third, but then got the next three in order. He was perfect in the fourth as well. But then in the fifth, with two outs, Choo got his revenge in the form of his 7th home run of the year. If you've watched the Orioles lately, you know a 4-0 lead is basically insurmountable.
Finally, in the fifth inning, the O's got on the board. Ryan Flaherty led off with a single, then with two outs Hardy came to the plate. I mentioned earlier that his bat is heating up, and it continued in this at bat. He hit a bomb to left field for a no-doubt homer. That cut the lead to 4-2, and it started to seem like maybe, maybe the Orioles might have a shot.
Chen put two more runners on in the sixth but didn't allow a run, then fell apart in the seventh (with a little help from Luis Ayala). With one out Lou Marson doubled and Choo walked, prompting Buck Showalter to pull Chen from the game. He was replaced by Ayala, who immediately gave up a three-run homer to Asdrubal Cabrera. He also walked Jason Kipnis, but thankfully got Casey Kotchman to ground into a double play.
The O's offense, by the way, decided to go to sleep after Hardy's homer. In innings six through nine they had just one baserunner thanks to a double from Betemit.
After Ayala finished the seventh, Pedro Strop and Jim Johnson each pitched a scoreless inning, but both were ugly. Strop gave up a single, had a guy reach on an error (Betemit, obviously), and walked one. Johnson gave up a single that would have been an out if Brian Roberts had hustled to first base to cover, and walked two guys.
So, that was the baseball game. This is the team I was expecting all along, folks.