Tonight was the unofficial re-awakening of the Orioles lineup. Every starter had at least one hit. All but two of the original nine earned a base on balls. In total the whole team slapped 14 hits, three home runs, walked EIGHT times and scored nine runs. It was a heck of a performance that, quite honestly, could have been even worse for the boys in blue.
The scoring could have started much earlier than it did. The Orioles managed to get four base runners in the first inning but were unable to push across a run thanks to an untimely Manny Machado double play that wiped out Nick Markakis' lead-off single. Singles by Adam Jones and Delmon Young followed by a Nelson Cruz walk would load the bases before J.J. Hardy grounded into a fielder's choice to end the threat.
Some more of the same in the second inning as Chris Davis walked and Jonthan Schoop delivered a one out single to give the Orioles runners on first and second. Markakis followed with a strikeout and Machado, despite the help of a dropped foul pop fly by Juan Francisco, would fly out.
Things would change the following inning. Young worked a one out walk and then, following a Cruz strikeout, Hardy sent a Mark Buehrle fastball to deep right-centerfield for a double to plate Young and make it 1-0 Orioles.
The good offensive vibes kept coming in the top of the third inning when Caleb Joseph led things off with a solo home run to left field to extend the Oriole lead to 2-0. It was his third straight game with a round-tripper. Schoop followed suit with a solo shot of his own to left, making it a 3-0 ball game.
Markakis and Machado (I call 'em the M&M connection) then did their own back-to-back thing with two singles, giving the Orioles two runners with no outs and the middle of the order coming up. Jones popped up but a wild pitch to Young moved both runners into scoring position. Former Oriole Danny Valencia had replaced Brett Lawrie at third base before the inning and the move reared its head when Young chopped a ball towards the hot corner. It took a strange hop and bounded off of Valencia's glove. Markakis crossed the plate and made it 4-0. The rally ended there as Cruz followed with a 6-4-3 double play.
This inning spelled the end for Buehrle and his final numbers were not pretty. He threw 96 pitches over four innings, allowing four runs on 10 hits, three walks and three strikeouts.
The Blue Jays would strike back in the bottom of the inning when a long ball off the bat of Colby Rasmus would score Dioner Navarro and himself to cut the lead in half; 4-2 Orioles.
Aaron Sanchez took over for Buerhle. He featured a much different game than the southpaw. He was zooming in fastballs between 98 and 99 m.p.h. Davis took a fastball, of 97 m.p.h variety, and absolutely walloped it to right-center field and pushing the lead back to three runs.
For the fourth straight inning, the O's would push another run across when Cruz single to left field and scored Manny Machado who had reached on a fielder's choice. It was now 6-2 and obvious that the Oriole offense was now back on the upswing.
Meanwhile, Bud Norris did not have his absolute best stuff but he battled like he always does. He exited in the sixth inning after allowing a single to Valencia after throwing just 84 pitches. It is possible his knee or ankle was bothering him after he hobbled off the field at the end of the third inning. But he did what he always does and put together enough of a start to put his team in a good position. His line was 5.1 innings, two runs on seven hits, six strikeouts and two walks.
The ball was then put in the ever reliable hands of the Oriole bullpen. Brian Matusz worked the remainder of the sixth inning and then got into trouble in the seventh by allowing hits to Ryan Goins and Jose Reyes. Tommy Hunter came in and made things sticky. Melky Cabrera immediately singled to load the bases with no outs and up walked Jose Bautista. On the second pitch of the at-bat he sent a fly ball to right field into the glove of Markakis. Goins scored to make it 6-3 O's but that was all they would get. Hunter forced Navarro to send a ground ball to Hardy who flipped to Schoop for the pitcher's best friend, the double play, and end the inning.
One final demonstration of offense came in the top of the eighth when the Orioles scored three more "insurance" runs. The bases were loaded quickly with a Machado walk, Jones single and Young walk. Cruz lifted a ball to deep center for a sacrifice flying, scoring Machado. Then Hardy added another run with a single to left field as Young touched home from third base. And finally, Davis had a sacrifice fly of his own on a nice play by Valencia in foul territory down the left field line. At the end of it, it was 9-3 Orioles.
And that is how it would end. Andrew Miller and T.J. McFarland each worked a scoreless eighth and ninth inning, respectively.
A lot of arms were used today. The Orioles sent five different guys to the mound; the Blue Jays, six. This will put even more pressure on the starters to go deep into ball games the rest of the way. And dang can these teams hit. Sure, the Orioles get the glory but combined these teams had 26 hits. This should be a slugfest of a series and Oriole pitchers have to do a better job against a very capable Blue Jay offense.
Wei-Yin Chen takes his turn tomorrow against the talented young right-hander Drew Hutchison. A win will guarantee both a series win and an increase in their division lead over the course of the three-game set. First pitch is 7:07 p.m ET at the Rogers Centre.
- Dylan Bundy threw 73 pitches tonight in Frederick. He went 4.1 innings, allowed five hits, seven strikeouts, no walks and no runs.
- Roch Kubatko made a cool point: this is the Orioles fourth straight win and they have done it in three different cities.
- Buck said after the game that Norris tweaked his ankle but he should be alright; nothing serious.
- Norris commented further that he had twisted it before the game and is still recovering from being hit in Los Angeles.