The ingredients were there for another frustrating Orioles loss: runs scored early and then none following the third inning, an opponent that threatened and eventually scored runs, a shaky bullpen having to pick up a couple of innings. The Orioles had many chances and left a ton of men on base, but they came through with insurance runs late in the game for once and cruised to a 7-2 victory to take the series against the Rockies.
Against one of the best pitchers in baseball on the road this season in Jhoulys Chacin, the Orioles early offense was impressive. Chacin entered the game with a 1.87 ERA on the road, so scoring three runs in the 5.1 innings that Chacin pitched is nothing to be disappointed by. They tagged him for nine hits and also recorded two walks, but could only manage the three runs while he was in the game.
For once, it was the bottom of the order that came through. Nick Markakis, continuing to bat fifth with his .367 slugging percentage, opened things up with a single with one out. Brian Roberts followed with another single and the Orioles had a promising scoring chance with two men on. The next two batters due up were Ryan Flaherty and Alexi Casilla. That doesn't seem so promising after all.
Flaherty advanced the runners on a groundout, but what is the point of getting two men in scoring position for Casilla with two outs? Most of the time, there is no point. Today proved to be the exception. Casilla singled into right - same as did Markakis and Roberts - and scored the Orioles' first run. Taylor Teagarden was up next, so the inning was over. Too many hitters in the bottom of the lineup can't come through at one time. That would just be crazy.
It was the middle of the order that struck in the third inning, with Chris Davis getting a two-out rally going by hitting a double into the right field corner, his 35th double of the season. There he stood when Adam Jones swung at a low and away breaking ball. That sounds like a recipe for a strikeout, doesn't it? The thing is that this breaking ball wasn't low and away enough and instead it ended up landing in the Orioles bullpen, 414 feet away from home plate.
The home run was Jones' 25th of the season, making this the third straight season that the Orioles outfielder has hit 25 or more home runs. According to the Jumbotron during the game, the last Orioles outfielder to accomplish this was Frank Robinson. That was the whole of the rally. Markakis walked but was stuck on first when Roberts lined out to short.
Davis and Jones were the stars of the game for the Orioles, with Davis going 4-5 and scoring three runs, hitting his 45th home run of the season to take away the save situation and keep Jim Johnson out of the game Jones went 3-5 with two runs scored and two runs batted in. The two Orioles sluggers were both a triple short of the cycle. Between the two of them, Davis and Jones have 204 RBI.
Meanwhile, Scott Feldman cruised, more or less, through six innings. Because he's an Orioles starter, he ran into a little difficulty in the sixth inning even though he entered that inning having thrown less than 70 pitches. Feldman walked Corey Dickerson with one out, and then threw two god-awful pitches that got away from Teagarden advanced Dickerson to second and then third base all within a single plate appearance. Both were scored as wild pitches, as they should have been.
Feldman tightened up the ship and struck out Troy Tulowitzki in the same at-bat where he uncorked the two wild pitches. Michael Cuddyer flew out to center and the O's got through six with a 3-0 lead.
It was the seventh inning where the Rockies would do their damage for the day. Todd Helton led off with a double off of Feldman and advanced to third on a sacrifice fly by Nolan Arenado.
A brief homer-infused interjection on Arenado: defensive metrics such as UZR and DRS suggest that Arenado is in the same class as Manny Machado at third base this season. Arenado did absolutely nothing to live up to that in this series. I had never heard of Arenado before recording Thursday's podcast, because who cares about the National League? I don't doubt he's looked good the whole rest of the year, but nobody looks good when they're playing the hot corner in the same park as Machado.
Charlie Blackmon drove in Helton with a double and easily stole third, which allowed him to score on a groundout by Yorvit Torrealba. Ninth-place hitter D.J. LeMahieu followed with a single. This chased Feldman from the game. Tommy Hunter shut down the situation. Feldman's line included 6.2 innings pitched with five hits, two walks, and two earned runs allowed. It was his fourth quality start for the Orioles in eight tries.
The Orioles added insurance runs in both the seventh and eighth innings against the Colorado bullpen. Two runs scored off Josh Outman in the seventh thanks to a two-run single by Roberts, who was 2-3 with a walk on the day. Davis' home run came in the eighth off Edgmer Escalona, who has an excellent name, if not an excellent ERA.
With the save chance taken out of reach by that home run, the Orioles summoned Josh Stinson to pitch the ninth inning. He gave up a hit and a walk, but no more runs crossed the plate and Johnson was not needed, thankfully. For his effort, Stinson was rewarded by being optioned back to Triple-A Norfolk following the game.
Interleague is over for the O's. They finished with an 11-9 record against the inferior baseball league. They could have won so many more than they did. Now, it's going to be almost all American League East for the entire rest of the season, starting with the Tampa Bay Rays coming into town to kick off a three-game series on Monday night.
Check back on Camden Chat Monday for a preview of the series with the Rays and the lineups for the game, once they are posted. At 6:30, you can get your pre-game fix when our game thread goes up for the 7:05pm start time. David Price faces off against Chris Tillman in the game.