The Orioles tonight administered onto the Cleveland Indians what can only be described as a beat down. They pummeled Derek Lowe for nine runs in just three innings, while their own starter Miguel Gonzalez pitched into the seventh, allowing just two runs. This was a game that featured, among other things, Jim Thome's first home run as an Oriole, three walks to Wilson Betemit, and a three-run homer from Ryan Flaherty.
I'm writing this recap from Cleveland, Ohio, where I've traveled for the weekend to support the Orioles. This trip was planned several months ago, back when it was easy to be excited about the Orioles. But as the weekend grew closer and the Orioles kept playing like slobs, I began to wonder if this was the best use of my vacation time from work. Well, tonight I have no doubts. Being in the stadium, watching these Orioles, was fantastic.
Some things about Cleveland that I've observed: the selection from the beer vendors is fantastic. At Oriole Park it's really tough to get any beer from a vendor other than Bud, Miller, or Boh. At Progressive Field they have Bud and Miller, but also Leinenkugel, Molson Ice(?), Lebatt Blue, Yeungling, and others. It was impressive. Another thing is that they play the song Hang on Sloopy, and after "Hang on Sloopy, Sloopy hang on." The entire crowd spells out O H I O with arm gestures (think YMCA). Also, not only do they play the Macarena here, people still do the dance! Crazy Ohioans. Oh, and when the Indians cross home plate, they play the Mario getting a coin noise, which is awesome.
Anyway, on to the game. After Derek Lowe retired Nick Markakis on a groundout, J.J. Hardy got on base with a double. Well, the box score says it's a double, but what it really was was Johnny Damon falling down instead of catching the ball. At best I think it could have been scored a single with an error allowing Hardy to get to second, but hometown scoring was in effect.
After Jim Thome grounded out to second, which moved Hardy to third base, Adam Jones came to the plate. Jones drew a walk, with ball four also being a wild pitch that brought Hardy in to score. The Indians pretty much gave them that run.
The one-run lead didn't last long. Gonzalez took the mound for the O's in the bottom of the inning and with one out, gave up a home run to Asbrubal Cabrera. He followed that with a double by Jason Kipnis, a walk, and a hit-by-pitch. So it seemed like it was going to be one of those days. But Gonzalez got out of the jam without allowing any more runs, and after the first inning he settled down nicely.
Speaking of "one of those days," the Orioles put runners on second and third in the second inning, but couldn't score. I happened to be sitting next to another Orioles fan who said to me in frustration, "They just can't score any runs! What is wrong with them?" I agreed with him and we decided it could be a long night. The Orioles decided to show us.
After a 1-2-3 bottom of the second from Gonzalez, the Orioles bats came out to play against Derek Lowe. Thome hit a ball to left field that I thought might make it out for his first O's homer. Instead it bounced off the wall where it was played by Damon. Thome decided to try to stretch the hit into a double and it was the battle of the old dudes. No legs vs. no arm. Thome was safe at first ahead of the throw from Damon, but not by much.
Thome moved to third on a ground out from Jones then Matt Wieters hit a ball deep to shortstop. Thome ran and Cabrera threw home to get him. He would have been out, but Carlos Santana couldn't hold on to the ball. So the run was in and Wieters was safe at first. Betemit doubled, so the Indians elected to intentionally walk Chris Davis to set up the double play and get to the #s eight and nine batters, Mark Reynolds and Ryan Flaherty. Folks, this is where it really got good.
Instead of striking out as he often does, or grounding into a double play as the Indians had hoped he would, Reynolds hit a long fly ball that looked for a moment like a grand slam. Instead he settled for a double. Wieters and Betemit scored, leaving Davis and Reynolds in scoring position for Flaherty. As I crossed my fingers that Flaherty could just bloop a single to knock in at least one run, he one-upped my hopes in a major way. He pulled the third pitch he saw to right field for a home run. And it wasn't a cheapie, either. Flaherty crossed the plate with the sixth run of the inning, giving the Orioles a 7-1 lead.
The O's added their eighth and ninth runs in the fourth inning. Thome led off the inning and this time he got his home run. It went over the right-field fence, his first as an Oriole and the 610th of his career. Lowe followed that with a walk to Jones and that was it for him. He was replaced by Cody Allen, making his major-league debut. It was not a great debut. He walked the first two batters he faced, then allowed Jones to score on a ground out from Davis. He did get the next two batters without allowing a run, so that's something.
The tenth and final run for the Orioles came around in the sixth inning when Adam Jones led off the inning with a double, then moved to third and then scored on two ground outs.
I mentioned earlier that Gonzalez settled down, and I meant it. He faced just three batters in the second, third, fifth, and sixth innings. In the fourth inning he gave up a walk and a single but didn't give up a run. He did get into trouble in the seventh inning, as it was clear he was losing steam. Damon reached on an infield single but was wiped out on a double play. Good thing, too, as Jack Hannahan followed with his 4th homer of the season to make the score 10-2. Shin-Soo Choo was up next, and he came THIS close to hitting another homer, but settled for a double. That marked the end for Gonzalez, who was pretty much as good as we can ask for. Matt Lindstrom came in and got the final out.
In the eighth inning, Lindstrom returned and had some bad luck. He retired the first two batters he faced, then hit Santana with a pitch. Travis Hafner hit the ball back up the middle, and it deflected off of Lindstrom for an infield single. Then Damon hit a line drive right off of Lindstrom's knee. Our seats were on the first base side but in the outfield, and I could hear the impact. It was scary. The ball deflected off of his knee and into foul territory and the bases were loaded. Lindstrom tried to walk it off but had to come out of the game.
Relieving Lindstrom was Kevin Gregg. I know how everyone feels about Gregg; I feel the same. But after going 2-0 to the first batter he saw, he was quite good. He got the last out of the eighth inning without allowing a run to score and pitched a 1-2-3 ninth.
Just a great game by the Orioles. Good pitching, good hitting, good stuff all around. Let's do it again tomorrow!