The Orioles needed another good outing from a starting pitcher, and they got it. What they didn't get was offense, as the bats went totally cold for the second time this season against Justin Masterson. Even with the loss the O's took three out of four in the series, but as they continue to struggle to score runs it doesn't bode well for future games.
Tonight's starting pitcher, Tommy Hunter, again did as much as we can ask from Tommy Hunter. He pitched seven strong innings before he things began to unravel in the eighth inning, and his main trouble was with Shin-Soo Choo, who was a maniac over the last few games. By the end of tonight's game I wondered why they pitched to him at all this series the way he knocked them around.
The Orioles squandered a chance to score in the second inning when a leadoff double from Adam Jones turned into a joke. After Matt Wieters K'd for the first out, Wilson Betemit hit a grounder to the pitcher. Jones ran on the pitch and Masterson threw to third base to get him. Jones managed to get himself into a rundown which would hopefully give Betemit a chance to get to second. Betemit just stood on first like a statue though, and eventually Adam was tagged out.
After blowing their opportunity in the top of the inning, the O's allowed the Indians to take the lead in the bottom. With Casey Kotchman on first base, Choo hit a home run. This guy! The two runs were all the Indians would need tonight.
Masterson worked around leadoff singles in the third and fourth innings, but the Orioles got to him for their one and only run in the fifth. With two outs, Masterson hit Ryan Flaherty. That brought new Oriole Omar Quintanilla to the plate looking for his first hit as an Oriole. And he got it! His line drive got past Michael Brantley in centerfield as Flash Flaherty scored from first. Quintanilla ended up on second with a double. Masterson lost it for a bit at that point, walking Nick Markakis on four pitches and going 3-0 to Endy Chavez. But with Jim Thome on deck Masterson remembered he was pitching to Endy Chavez and threw three straight fastballs down the middle. The first was a called strike, the second was fouled off, and the third one Endy smoked for a line drive that unfortunately went right to Kotchman at first.
The Orioles only sent three batters to the mound in each of the sixth and seventh innings, thanks to two double plays (good job, guys!), and in the eighth they blew a prime chance to tie the game. After Q-Bert (Quintanilla is just too many letters) made the first out, Markakis singled to centerfield. That was it for Masterson, which seemed like a quick hook to me. He was only at 92 pitches and he seemed to have the game in hand.
At any rate, Masterson was replaced by Vinnie Pestano, who embarrassingly gave up a double to Chavez. Markakis was racing around the bases and as he got to third base DeMarlo Hale threw up a stop sign as left fielder Aaron Cunningham was just coming up with the ball. Markakis blew through the stop sign, which was mistake #1. Mistake #2: Once he realized that he ran the stop sign, he just stopped. He didn't steam towards home and hope that Cunningham made a bad throw, he didn't race back to third base as fast as he could. He just kind of looked confused. Needless to say, he got tagged out. Chavez ended up on third while Nick halfheartedly got himself into a rundown, but Thome struck out to end the inning.
With a low pitch count and a solid handle on the game, Hunter returned for the eighth inning. He didn't quite have enough for another inning, though, as the Indians greeted him with back-to-back singles. The first was a solid hit from (who else) Choo, but the second was a tough luck infield grounder that died. Buck Showalter decided to go with Troy Patton from the bullpen, but it didn't really work out. Another infield single loaded the bases for Brantley, who singled in one run. Patton did an admirable job after that, though, getting two more outs without allowing another run. Darren O'Day came in to get the final out.
Down 3-1 going into the ninth inning, the Indians sent in Chris Perez to lock down the win, and lock it down he did. Jones, Wieters, and Betemit were required easily to end the game.