The Orioles used their patented combination of home runs and a shut down bullpen to earn the series win over the Red Sox tonight at Fenway Park in Boston, Mass by a final score of 4-1. Camden North is officially a "thing."
So, you may have heard that the Orioles have a propensity for hitting the long ball. it's no big deal really. They are the top home run hitting team in the league, leading the second-place team by 20. A lot of that is thanks to the Major League leader Nelson Cruz and his 39 dingers. But it just so happens that when a team hits a lot of home runs, they have power throughout the entire lineup.
The Red Sox starter Anthony Ranaudo learned this the hard way as he was victimized by the Baltimore bats three times tonight. Alejandro De Aza was a repeat offender and Adam Jones added one of his own.
In the top of the first inning, Nick Markakis worked a walk on six pitches. De Aza followed with a home run off of a 91 mph fastball. The ball was sent to right-center field, landing in the Boston bullpen. The round-tripper was De Aza's sixth of the season, but his first as a member of the O's. Markakis earned the distinction of being the Domincan's first RBI in the black and orange as well. Two batters into the game, the Birds were up 2-0.
Baltimore would double the lead in the third inning. Again, the little De Aza was at the center of things. He launched another fastball into the Boston night. This one went over the Red Sox bullpen to put the O's up 3-0.
Not to be outdone, Jones immediately stole De Aza's thunder. Before the MASN broadcast had even come out of the replay of the previous home run, Jones had absolutely crushed a baseball to deep left field for back-to-back home runs. 4-0 Birds. It was the centerfielder's 25th home run on the year.
Ranaudo's night would end in the middle of the fourth inning. His stat line probably wasn't what he had imagined. He went 3.1 innings, allowing four runs on six hits and two walks. Poor rookie.
On the other side, the O's starter, Chris Tillman, labored but got the job done. (That's so Tillman!) He threw 108 pitches to get through five innings. He gave up just one run on six hits and two walks.
The one run was a solo home run off the bat of Xander Bogaerts in the middle of the fourth inning. Things nearly got uglier in the fifth as Tillman found himself in some serious trouble.
After getting former Oriole Jemile Weeks to fly out, Tillman allowed a walk to Christian Vazquez and singles from Mookie Betts and Daniel Nava to load the bases with David Ortiz headed to the plate. Yikes.
Big Papi fouled off two pitches, laughing after doing so, and took two balls to get to a 2-2 count. On the fifth pitch of the at-bat, Ortiz pounded a ball into the ground towards Jonathan Schoop at second base who threw to Ryan Flaherty to begin a 4-6-3 double play, getting the Orioles out of the inning unscathed.
A little cherry on top of tonight's win was Ortiz's 0-for-4 performance. He had two strikeouts and left five runners on base.
From there, the game was turned over to the bullpens. Both units did a great job.
The Red Sox 'pen put together 5.2 innings of scoreless work, while the O's racked up four innings worth of zeroes.
The one Boston arm that MASN's Gary Thorne kept telling viewers that the Red Sox may put in their rotation next year was Matt Barnes. The 2011 first round draft pick is currently ranked as the Red Sox #12 prospect on MLB.com and #9 according to Baseball America. It was his Major League debut tonight and he did a nice job in three innings of relief. But, Ranaudo, who started the game, is more highly regarded. As is former Oriole farmhand Eduardo Rodriguez.
For the O's, it was Evan Meek, Andrew Miller, Brad Brach and Zach Britton who combined to blank the BoSox over four innings.
Britton was helped by what some people in these parts refer to as a TOOTBLAN by Bogaerts. The Boston shortstop was stood at first base when Carlos Rivero hit a gapper to right-center. Markakis grabbed it on the hop and fired towards the infield. Bogaerts advanced to third as the throw was coming in.
Somehow, the throw squeezed through Flaherty and just rolled through the infield towards Kelly Johnson, who had come on as a defensive replacement, at third base. Inexplicably, and despite the Boston third base coach making every impression of telling Bogaerts to stay put, he kept right on going towards home plate. Johnson gathered the ball and made a perfect throw home to nab the runner by a mile.
Whatever the reason behind the decision, it allowed Britton to settle down and close out the game. The southpaw earned his 34th save of the season. Meanwhile, Tillman now bumps his record to 12-5 this season. Meek, Miller and Brach added their 3rd, 20th and 5th holds, respectively.
Wei-Yin Chen will try his best to get the O's a sweep tomorrow afternoon. He will be opposed by right-hander Brandon Workman. First pitch is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. so be sure to have your Camden Chat gamethread open at work tomorrow so you can keep up with all the action.
--De Aza and Jones' home runs in the third inning was the sixth time the O's have gone back-to-back this season.
--This was the second time in his career that De Aza hit two home runs in a game. The other came back on March 31.
--Tillman now sits at 187.2 innings on the year. It seems likely that he will get two more starts before the playoffs. He will need to go 6.1 innings in each outing to reach 200 for the season.
--Tilly has also made 18 consecutive starts allowing three or fewer runs. That ties him for the fourth longest in team history.
--O's are now 23-0 when they hit three or more home runs.
The Magic Number is now 9 after the O's win, Blue Jays won and Yankees lost