A wild weather day in Baltimore that saw a funnel cloud over the harbor in Canton and a tornado warning in my neck of the woods led to a two hour and fifteen minute rain delay at Camden Yards. The Orioles held a lead when the torrential downpour finally was enough to convince home plate umpire Joe West to send the game into a rain delay. Despite a completely drenched field, play eventually resumed, and the O's held on for a 4-3 victory in the opening game against the Angels.
This is the kind of game you might say that the Orioles stole. They deserved to win, but they did not look like the favorites going into it. With Freddy Garcia matching up against Jered Weaver, how could you feel good? As they always say: that's why they play the games.
Early runs came on the board thanks to home runs. Mike Trout led off the scoring with his 11th home run of the year. He staked the Angels to a 1-0 lead in the third inning. Adam Jones countered in the fourth inning with a two-run shot off Weaver. I am sure it was a nice home run, though I must admit I was a little too busy to be watching it because there was a possible tornado possibly heading towards where I live.
The rain that pelted my portion of the suburbs eventually arrived in downtown Baltimore. With the Orioles clinging to a 2-1 lead heading into the top of the fifth inning, the game looked like one of those where it would go final after it went official, and as Garcia sent down the Angels in the fifth, the game was official, with the Orioles having a lead. The game could end then and the Orioles would have won.
West pushed on as the rain increased in strength. That left enough time for Josh Hamilton to even up the score with a solo home run, his 9th of the year. Hamilton would end the game with a .390 slugging percentage, which is another way of saying that the Angels' $125 million man is being out-slugged by every Oriole in tonight's starting lineup except for Ryan Flaherty.
With the score tied, if the rains came, the game could not end. No problem, because West would keep the good times rolling in the monsoon, and the Orioles made the most of that in the bottom of the sixth. Nate McLouth, noted aficionado of 1980s music, reached base on a bunt and dug his way through the mud to steal second, his 22nd steal of the year.
McLouth was then in scoring position, moving to third when Manny Machado flared a single into right field. Hamilton confidently strode up to get the ball into his glove and throw it home to keep McLouth from scoring. That was his intent. In practice, he overran the ball. McLouth scored and Machado took second on the error, giving the Orioles the lead once again. Machado moved to third on another flare single to left by Nick Markakis and scored when Jones hit a sacrifice fly.
The rain reached a level that even West could not ignore when Chris Davis grounded into a fielder's choice, with Markakis sliding through a mud puddle as he reached second base. That would do it for the starters. Weaver gave up six hits, a walk, and four earned runs in 5.2 IP. Garcia allowed five hits, a walk, and two runs (both on home runs) in six innings.
For a while it looked like that should do it for the game, but the rain eventually stopped and the field was somehow made playable. The diligence of the Orioles grounds crew was rewarded by Tommy Hunter coming on in relief and loading the bases in the top of the seventh inning. He gave up a walk, single, and walk, which brought up Hamilton, who hit a pathetic, weak grounder to the one part of the infield where no out could be recorded. A run scored on the play, cutting the Orioles lead to 4-3.
The next two batters were Albert Pujols and Mark Trumbo. If you expected a grand slam, you are like me. Hunter struck out Pujols and got Trumbo to ground to second.
Angels reliever Garrett Richards held the Orioles from adding any insurance runs. Weird baseball potential loomed large if Jim Johnson should slip up with the slim lead in the ninth. The bad JJ of the middle of last month showed no signs of appearing. He induced three easy groundouts to end the game with no drama and record his 22nd save of the season. That is the way they drew it up.
The O's go back to eight games above .500 with the win, their 16th in 29 home games. They'll be back in action against these Angels tomorrow night at 7:05pm. Miguel Gonzalez is the scheduled starter for the Orioles. He will be opposed by Jason Vargas.