When you get only five hits in a baseball game that goes for 13 innings, there are only a limited number of ways that you can win. The Orioles, despite getting seven innings from their starter and two separate two-inning stints from two relievers, were the first team to lose reliever roulette, and so they lost the game, because we are not allowed nice things, especially sweeps. The attempt to get a second inning out of Ryan Webb failed, and the Orioles lost, 1-0, to the Angels.
The game was 0-0 for twelve innings and over four hours. While there are times where a low-scoring game can be enjoyable, there is nothing remotely fun about that much 0-0 baseball. Unfortunately, it was the O's who finally coughed up the runs. This formula worked on Tuesday and it did not work tonight. That's one reason why it's hard to win so many extra inning games.
Orioles hitters could do little the entire game. It didn't matter who was pitching. In a way, they're lucky that they didn't get no-hit. Things were headed in that direction against Angels starter Tyler Skaggs, who struck out seven Orioles in 4.2 innings and did not allow any hits. Before he could keep chewing them up, though, he suffered what was described as a left forearm strain. After throwing a pitch, he signaled to the dugout and promptly left the game. Whatever it was, there was no doubt about it, no warm-up tosses. He left.
Reliever Mike Morin gave up the first Orioles hit to Caleb Joseph, the first batter he faced, ending the no-hitter drama before it could get too silly. That's the good news. The bad news is that Joseph was the only Orioles batter to have a hit in the nine regulation innings. Joseph had two hits on the night, the second of which came leading off the eighth inning. The Orioles pinch-ran David Lough for their entire offensive production.
It was a nice idea to have the speedy Lough on base. Jonathan Schoop laid down one of his rare successful bunts to advance Lough, but Nick Markakis and Manny Machado could do nothing with the runner in scoring position, so the game rolled on.
One of the few bright spots in the game was starter Bud Norris, who pitched seven scoreless innings, scattering eight hits and a walk. He continued a string of career dominance against the Angels.
Machado made a couple of amazing plays in the game, which is almost routine for him. They were really amazing, though, including one where he fielded a grounder at the foul line, had to set his feet while dodging the third base umpire, and fired across the diamond to nail Albert Pujols at first. He's good. Too bad that play couldn't come in support of a win.
Brad Brach and Tommy Hunter each tossed a couple of painless innings, allowing only one hit between them while striking out five Angels batters. Webb looked like he was going to join them after pitching a scoreless 12th. Too bad he was done being a good pitcher for the night when the 13th started.
Kole Calhoun started with a four pitch walk. Nothing good can happen after a four pitch walk. Mike Trout, held quiet for most of the series up until then, laced a single into left. Calhoun sprinted around to third base thanks to a good read on the fielder. With first and third and no one out, there were few good outcomes, and sure enough, the next batter, Pujols, drove in the run with a single up the middle. It was a bit of redemption for Pujols, who grounded into a double play twice earlier in the game, keeping up his pace to eventually pass Cal Ripken for the career GIDP lead.
That was the end of Webb's night. With Josh Hamilton due up, his personal demon, Brian Matusz, came into the game, and did not fail in his task. Matusz even stayed in the game to face right-handed batters, and pitched like a man who knows the Orioles just traded for a lefty and that Matusz himself is looking like the worst existing lefty on the roster. He ended that jam with no further damage on the scoreboard.
It was the top of the Orioles order due up in the bottom of the 13th. There are nights where that can be promising. Thursday night's game was not such a night. Markakis hit a classic Markakian dribbler to second base for the first out. Machado worked himself a full count before swinging through a pull-the-string kind of pitch for the second out. That was Machado's fourth strikeout of the night. He went 0-6.
Even the clutch Adam Jones, who'd homered for his mama the last two games, could do nothing against Angels closer Huston Street. He popped up weakly to first base, finally ending our torment with a 1-0 final score. Street picked up his fourth save as an Angel. Webb took the loss, falling to 3-2, while Hector Santiago, who struck out Schoop with two outs in the 12th after loading the bases, got the win, raising his record to 3-7.
Only Toronto was in action on Thursday, and because they're not allowed to lose again, they won a game against the Astros thanks, in part, to a pair of home runs from Nolan Reimold. That's not the way the movie was supposed to go. That peels back the Orioles divisional lead to only 1.5 games - though they're three ahead in the loss column.
The last six Orioles games have been decided by one run. They are 4-2 in those games. Winning two out of three is not bad, it's true, but unfortunately, it looks like the Orioles have to do better than that to hold on to the division lead. They'll start August with that slim 1.5 game lead, and that lead could be gone in two days if they aren't careful.
The O's went 5-42 at the plate in the game and struck out 16 times. Barf.
They'll be back in action on Friday night as the Mariners come to town to start a three-game series. Wei-Yin Chen starts the series opener for the O's, with Roenis Elias getting the ball for Seattle. The game starts at 7:05.