Tonight the Orioles did what was thought, just six months ago, to be impossible. Well, I should say, thought to be impossible by almost everyone. But there was one man, dan o'hare, who dared to stand up and and believe. He was mocked, but in the end it turned out that his was the one true faith after all. He stood up to persecution, of people calling him crazy, and tonight he was in attendance at Oriole Park at Camden Yards to see his prediction fulfilled.
The Baltimore Orioles have won 90 games this season.
So how did they get there? Let's start with the Red Sox offensive performance tonight against Chris Tillman. Scott Podsednik started the game with a bunt single and moved to second base when Ryan Flaherty threw the ball away. Pedro Ciriaco sacrificed him to third base with a bunt (in the first inning, when he was already in scoring position), and Podsednik came in to score on a sacrifice fly.
That's it. That was the Red Sox offense tonight, in totality. Tillman completely shut them down. He didn't allow another hit on the evening, and walked just two in his eight innings. After walking Dustin Pedroia to start the second inning, Tillman retired the next fourteen batter he faced. He only struck out three, but it didn't matter as the Red Sox just hit lazy fly ball after routine grounder all night long. It was awesome to watch.
As Tillman dazzled on the mound, so did the O's bats at the plate. To be fair, they were facing Aaron Cook to start things off, and he's terrible. But even still the bottom of the first inning tonight was a whole lot of fun.
Starting things off was Nate McLouth, who hit the first pitch up the middle for a base hit. Cook retired J.J. Hardy to get to Chris Davis, who untied the game in a hurry with his 29th homer of the year. Cook came back to get Adam Jones to ground out, but the Orioles were in the mood for a little two-out rally. Jim Thome singled, Mark Reynolds walked, and Manny Machado singled to load the bases. Still, all Cook had to do to get out of it was get second baseman Ryan Flaherty, he of the rule 5 draft and part-time playing.
He couldn't do it.
Flaherty saw four pitches, the last of which he smoked to right-center field. It landed in the bleacher seats for his first career grand slam and 6-1 lead for the Orioles. Holy wow!
Cook started off the second inning by walking McLouth and Hardy, and then he was pulled from the game. His final line was 1 IP (plus two batters), 5 H, 6 R, 3 BB, 0 K. He was replaced by Alfredo Aceves, who stopped the impending rally with a double play ball off the bat of Chris Davis.
Aceves actually kept the O's off the board for a three innings before they stormed back for more in the fifth. With two outs, Reynolds, Machado and Flaherty hit back-to-back-to-back doubles to knock in two runs, then Taylor Teagarden joined the party with an RBI single to make the score 9-1 and knock Aceves from the game.
Replacing Aceves was former Orioles farmhand Pedro Beato, who I had no idea had ended up with the Red Sox. Beato was actually pretty good tonight, shutting down the previously potent O's lineup for 2 1/3 innings. Thanks to that and Tillman's masterful pitching, the second half of the game was a lot quieter than the first five innings.
After throwing 100 pitches in 8 innings, Tillman came out of the game. There was really no reason to keep him in with the big lead, and he was replaced by Troy Patton. Patton should have gotten the Red Sox 1-2-3, but he made a throwing error to first that would have been the final out. Troy was obviously trying to be nonchalant in his throw, and it did not work out. But he came back to strike out Ivan DeJesus to end the game.