BALTIMORE -- After grinding out an extra-inning win in the first game of today's doubleheader, the Orioles cruised 5-0 win in the nightcap. Thanks to strong pitching by Bud Norris and an impressive performance from a spring-training-like lineup, the Orioles have now won six games in a row and decreased their magic number to just five.
Manager Buck Showalter opted to give regulars Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, and J.J. Hardy the second game off today. He has been giving his players rest lately, and in the case of Hardy, the shortstop looked less than 100% in game one after missing a week due to back spasms. But with those three missing and the suspension of Chris Davis earlier today, the lineup was almost unrecognizable. But they didn't let that stop them.
The O's put runners on in each of the first three innings, but couldn't capitalize against rookie starter Bryan Mitchell. In both the first and third innings, Steve Pearce and Nelson Cruz reached base but were stranded, and in the second a two-out walk from Ryan Flaherty was wasted. But they broke through in the fourth inning thanks to two guys who haven't had much playing time and one newcomer.
David Lough, who got the start in centerfield in place of Jones, worked a leadoff walk and then scored on a one-out double that was smoked to center by Flaherty. Flaherty then came in to score on a triple from Alejandro De Aza, who just flew around the bases. It was the first of two RBI triples in the game for De Aza, who has done nothing but hit since arriving in Baltimore.
After a failed hit-and-run led to a strike-'em-out-throw-'em-out double play with Cruz on the bases and Delmon Young at the plate, the rookie Mitchell's night was over. Josh Outman pitched the sixth for the Yankees and gave them the only clean inning they had in the entire game.
David Phelps started the seventh inning for the Yankees and got the first two batters, but then lost all control and walked the bases loaded. Yes, three straight Orioles walked. It was quite a sight to see. That set the table for Young, who had to that point been miserable at the plate. In addition to striking out with Cruz on the bases in the fifth, twice he had stranded two runners to end the inning. The third time was the charm, though, as he smashed a ball towards second base that completely ate up Stephen Drew and went past him into right field. Pearce and Jimmy Paredes came in to score, which gave the O's a 4-0 lead.
The O's tacked on one more run in the eighth inning with someone named Chaz Roe on the mound. With two outs, Roe struck out Jonathan Schoop but did so on a wild pitch. The pitch got well past the catcher and Schoop made it to first base to extend the inning. That gave De Aza another chance, which is when he had his second triple of the night. This one hit off of the right field scoreboard and Schoop scored easily.
All of those runs were in support of Bud Norris, who had himself a very good night. The Orioles needed a strong performance after using most of their good relievers in the extra-inning day game, and Bud came through with seven shutout innings. He had just two 1-2-3 innings, but never allowed more than one baserunner in any one inning. Of the three hits he allowed one was a groundball single past Jimmy Paredes at third base that a better defender probably would have gotten to.
Just once Norris allowed a runner to reach second base. In the fourth inning he walked Brett Gardner with no outs, and Gardner stole second, but Bud came back to strike out the next two and get a groundball for the third out. He also walked the leadoff batter, Ichiro Suzuki, in the fifth inning, but catcher Caleb Joseph gunned him down trying to steal second.
All told Norris struck out ten batters. No one in the Yankees lineup was safe as he struck out every batter once except Ichiro. Bud struck him out twice. His final pitching line was 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 10 K. Well done, Bud!
Tommy Hunter and Brian Matusz came out of the bullpen and each pitched a scoreless inning to end the game. Hunter had some dramatics when he made a ridiculous throw to first on what was clearly going to be an infield hit by pinch-hitter Antoan Richardson. The throw didn't go near anyone with a glove and bounced into foul territory, allowing Richardson to go to second. He moved to third on a sacrifice fly but did not come in to score. Matusz pitched a perfect ninth to lock down the win.
What a day. It started with terrible news, and losing Davis still hurts. But the team played its heart out today and came away with two wins. They now have 88 wins on the year and are 29 games over .500. They're back at it tomorrow for another day game, with Miguel Gonzalez on the mound vs. Shane Greene.