Tsuyoshi Wada is having a fine season for the Cubs this year, and today he showed why. In 6.1 innings he allowed just one hit and one walk and struck out eight. That hit was a solo shot by Steve Pearce that went out onto Waveland Avenue and got the Orioles off the schneid, but it wasn’t enough to get a win. There’s not much else to say about Wada’s performance; he’s been getting it done all year. The Orioles may regret having dumped him before too long.
Wada started off by getting two quick outs before issuing a rare walk to Adam Jones. Orioles fans did a double take; Jones hadn’t walked since August 8th. Wada then set down the next 16 batters in a row. He struck out the side in order twice: once in the top of the fourth (Pearce, Jones, Cruz) and again in the top of the sixth (Jonathan Schoop, Miguel Gonzalez, Nick Markakis).
After the Pearce dinger in the top of the seventh, Wada retired Jones on a pop-out before giving way to reliever Neil Ramirez. Ramirez walked Nelson Cruz to put a runner on, but J.J. Hardy flew out and Chris Davis chased a curveball in the dirt for strike three, as he often does. Following Ramirez, Pedro Strop and closer Hector Rondon finished the game out.
Miguel Gonzalez, making his first start since August 7th, nearly matched Wada’s performance. He also pitched 6.1 innings, but they were less effective. He didn’t walk a batter and he gave up only two runs, but he surrendered six hits and struck out just three. The only real mistake was to Arismendy Alcantara, who homered in the bottom of the 5th to put the Cubs up 1-0. And in the bottom of the sixth, facing the order for the third time, Gonzalez gave up a double to 2009 Rookie of the Year Chris Coghlan and another to Anthony Rizzo for the Cubs’ second and final run.
It was a good performance, it just wan't enough to get the job done when the Orioles' offense was so cold. Brad Brach and Brian Matusz kept the game close in relief, but to no avail.
The loss seals a series sweep, the first one for the Orioles since May 12-14 against Detroit, and drops the team to 73-55. With the Yankees’ win today, the Orioles’ lead in the AL East is at six games with 34 left to play.