Chris Davis is not going to let us dislike him. It doesn't matter what he does, he will always find a way to win us back, or at least give him a little more time. I can almost hear all of Birdland collectively saying, "Fine, you can stay one more game". Also, can we all toast our Natty Bohs to the bullpen tonight? Was this the first game they didn't allow a run? I think it was.
Going into the game, there were two things to watch for. Could Tillman have a long outing and spare the bullpen a little? And how was 2nd base going to be without Schoop?
The first and second innings started off great. Pearce hit a single in the first and broke his hitless streak (0 for 14). Jones extended his hit streak to 8 games. Alejandro De Aza made two great defensive plays, the first time getting Ortiz out at 2nd, after he tried to extend his single. And honestly, anyone faster than Ortiz (which let's face it, is EVERY OTHER PLAYER IN THE MLB) probably would've turned that to a double - so it was a good play by De Aza. But Ortiz should never try for 2nd if there's an outfielder in the same time zone as the ball he hit, but hey - I'll take it. The 2nd play De Aza made was a running catch to rob Sandoval. And Tillman got through the 1st and 2nd in 21 pitches. I felt like he was on his way to a complete game.
But starting in the 3rd, things got less optimistic (and slower...). The Orioles went 3 up, 3 down. The Red Sox batters remember that this is the Orioles, where you foul tip ALL THE BALLS. So that's what they did. I think Tillman threw about 30 pitches, blowing his efficient game away. He allowed only 1 base runner on a walk, but got lucky with Pedroia, where a Machado throw to Davis got him out on a slow grounder.
In the fourth inning though, Machado drove in the Orioles first run after a couple hits by Jones and Paredes, who acted like he was still in spring training with a couple hits tonight. Seriously, I'm not ready to completely buy in on the guy, but for someone who only found he was playing tonight hours beforehand, well done. The Orioles drove in another run, before loading the bases with 1 out. But De Aza and Pearce would strike out to end the rally. De Aza by the way, struck out swinging at ANOTHER pitch in the dirt. Maybe Adam Jones' disease rubbed off on him. Except I feel like even Jones would've laid off these. He's had multiple strike outs already this year where the catcher couldn't even catch the ball it was so low, and he's had to either tag out De Aza or throw it to first as De Aza tried to make it there. It's been very frustrating.
In the top of the 5th, the Orioles would again load the bases (this time with no outs), taking advantage of some miscues by the Red Sox players. Machado comes up and hits into a 3-2-3 double play, probably the worst outcome for that situation, outside of a triple play I suppose. Anyway, Caleb Joseph would walk and continue to make everyone wonder who that Matt Wieters guy is, before Flaherty would strike out to leave 'em loaded...again. So three times an Orioles batter came up with bases loaded in the span of 2 innings and it resulted in ZERO runs. I need ESPN Stats and Info to tell me if that's a record or not. Seems like something they would tweet out.
In the bottom of the 6th, Tillman gives up a leadoff double to Ortiz (even one that let him make it to 2nd). Ortiz would go on to score after Tillman bobbled a slow grounder hit to him by Sandoval. After Napoli singled, Tillman was done. It was a good effort, 5.1 IP, 2BBs, 5Ks, and about 105 pitches (I missed the final count). I'm sure the coaching staff was hoping for a little bit more. Brad Brach, Orioles bullpen workhorse, would come in to end the inning without any further damage.
Not too much happened in the 7th and 8th. Caleb Joseph missed another throw to 2nd when Holt stole 2nd. He's 0 for 4 this year. What's that about? Also, Ortiz continued to look bad when he stepped out of the batters box before the pitch went over the plate and the ump called a strike when it was obviously off the plate. It almost seemed like O'Day was intentionally/unintentionally walking him (we need a name for that), why step out like that? And then on the next pitch when O'Day threw another ball, he just dropped his bat in the batter's box like it was a mic and trotted off to the first. Terrible. The Orioles defense also continued their great day by killing a Red Sox rally in the 8th with a good 1-4-3 double play.
So then in the 9th, Chris Davis comes up after Pearce singled...and in my notes I write "Davis...ugh". I just couldn't imagine anymore him doing something good, let alone hitting a home run. I will say this...I'm not sure that would've been a homer in any other ballpark. It was high, and just barely hit the top of the Monster. I imagine at Camden Yards it would've been a warning track out, but tonight it was good enough for a HR. And Davis looked just surprised as any of us by the way, you can just tell he is not right now. But none of that matters today. Britton came in for the save, knocking them down 1-2-3 and looking much more like the Britton of last year.
So how did the Bullpen fare after being unfairly called to duty early last night? O'Day is the only guy who had to pitch twice, so that's not bad considering Tillman couldn't get out of the 6th tonight. And how was 2nd without Schoop? Seemed OK with Flaherty to me. That guy is no one's all-star, but about everything you could want from a bench player. This was a tough win, and it certainly could have gone the other way. But they tie up the series at 1-1 and get back above .500. Nice end to a nice Saturday (In MD anyway, it looked cold up there).