Miguel Gonzalez has had his ups and downs of late, and was coming off of a seven-run, four-inning outing against the Yankees to face the White Sox tonight. Opposing him was Jose Quintana, who also made O's fans nervous simply by being left-handed (but thankfully not too soft-tossing). The O's have struggled to string hits together in the last several games, and tonight would be no exception, as they didn't get a hit with a runner in scoring position and stranded leadoff baserunners four times. That sounds really bad, but they won anyway.
Gonzalez started out strong, getting a groundout and a pair of strikeouts in the first. Quintana recorded two outs in the bottom half before giving up a solo shot to Adam Jones, Adam's thirtieth longball of the season. Gonzalez protected the 1-0 lead with a clean second inning, inducing three quick groundouts, and the O's stranded Matt Wieters after he led off the O's turn at bat with a double to the gap in right-center.
In the third, Miguel Gonzalez got himself into quite the jam. He gave up his first hit of the game to Conor Gillaspie on a bloop to shallow left. Dayan Viciedo followed with a liner up the middle, and Bryan Anderson walked, loading the bases with no outs. Miguel recovered, though, getting Alejandro De Aza to ground into a game-tying double play, and Gordon Beckham also grounded out, stranding the go-ahead run at third.
The O's waited a couple of innings before breaking the 1-1 tie, going down in order on seven pitches in the third and stranding Adam Jones in the fourth after he took a leadoff walk(!). Gonzalez held the score there, retiring the side in order in the fourth and getting around a two-out single in the fifth.
J.J. Hardy led off the bottom of the fifth inning with a solo homer to left, his twenty-fifth of the year. Danny Valencia then grounded to short, and Nate McLouth struck out looking, but Brian Roberts hit his own left-field homer, extending the O's lead to 3-1. Manny Machado ended the inning with a groundout. Gonzalez protected the regained lead by striking out the side in the sixth around a two-out single to Alexei Ramirez.
In the bottom of the sixth, Adam Jones reached base to lead off the inning for the second time tonight, sending a grounder up the middle. After Chris Davis lined out to right, Matt Wieters singled to left, and it looked the O's might string together an actual rally. Instead, Michael Morse grounded into a 5-4-3 double play, and the O's stranded yet more runners.
Miguel Gonzalez retired the side in order in the seventh, and the O's stranded another runner in their at-bat, as J.J. Hardy led off with a bloop single to left, but Danny Valencia flied out to right, and Nate McLouth grounded into a double play. Tommy Hunter relieved Gonzalez in the eighth and pitched well, allowing a two-out single but recording a strikeout and a pair of groundouts. Chicago reliever Addison Reed followed him and struck out Roberts, Machado, and Jones. Yeesh.
Thankfully for nervous O's fans, Jim Johnson recorded a clean ninth inning, getting two strikeouts and a groundout. O's win, 3-1. That brings the O's up to 3.5 games back of the second wild card as of this writing, though the Yankees, Rays, and Athletics have yet to finish their games tonight. Stressful though it is, and pessimistic as many of us are at this point, the Birds are hanging in this thing, if just barely.