Miguel Gonzalez, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways: I love your 7 2/3 innings pitched with just one unearned run and three hits, I love your four 10-pitch innings. I love your five strikeouts and your 14 consecutive batters retired. I love the way you rid us all of the bad taste left from yesterday's dumpster fire. I love how you continue to feel like our little secret thanks to the way you're overlooked by the national baseball world. I love having you on the team that I root for.
Tonight the Orioles as a whole looked a lot more like the team that I believe they are than they did in last night's loss. They played solid defense for the most part (Alejandro De Aza kind of ruined it), they jumped on a pitcher with control problems, and they got very solid pitching. It was just a fun game all around.
The Orioles had one big inning on offense, the second. Sanchez issued back-to-back walks to Chris Davis and J.J. Hardy to start the inning, then David Lough bunted them over to second and third on the first pitch he saw. I'm not generally a fan of bunting, but it didn't hurt the Orioles this time around as Caleb Joseph, Manny Machado, and De Aza doubled to knock in four runs, then De Aza came in to score the fifth run on single by Jimmy Paredes. The O's sent nine batters to the plate in the inning and gave Gonzalez more than enough runs to last him.
Speaking of Gonzalez, he allowed a few baserunners early in the game before putting together a long stretch of retired batters. He allowed two runners on in the first inning before inducing harmless pop ups from Edwin Encarnacion and Russell Martin to end the inning. After a 1-2-3 second inning, MiGo found himself in trouble, partly of his own doing and partly due to De Aza.
After hitting the first batter of the inning, Ezequiel Carrera, MiGo gave up a single to right field to Devon Travis. Instead of getting the ball to second base as Carrera easily motored to third, De Aza threw the ball to third base as Jim Palmer wailed, "WHAT are you doing!" It was a very Evelyn-from-A-League-of-Their-Own moment and Palmer clearly wanted to go all Jimmy Dugan on De Aza.
The miscue put runners on second and third with no outs, but a big play by Manny Machado surely made De Aza feel better. Josh Donaldson hit a ground ball to third base that Machado fielded. He started towards first but then caught Carrera at third and tagged him out trying to get back to third. Nice! Jose Bautista grounded into a double play (also started by Manny) to end the inning, and MiGo was out of trouble.
After that it was the Miguel Gonzalez show. MiGo retired the Jays in order in the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh innings. He entered the eighth inning looking like he might end up pitching a complete game, but his command chose that moment to leave him. He walked Kevin Pillar to start the eighth inning, then a bloop fell into right field (that perhaps De Aza could have had with a better jump). Gonzalez bounced back to get the next two batters, but he then walked Donaldson with ball four going for a passed ball. Pillar came in to score the only run for the Jays in the game. It was a tough break for Gonzalez, and the last batter that he faced.
Buck Showalter made the interesting decision to bring in Darren O'Day to pitch to Bautista, given that they have a history of hating each other and Bautista has a history of owning O'Day. But before I even had a chance to get nervous, Bautista grounded out on the first pitch to end the inning. It was the second time in the series that Bautista came up late in the game with the opportunity to make a difference, only to ground out on the first pitch.
The sixth and final run for the Orioles came in the eighth inning, and it was a big one. Not really for the team given their big lead, but definitely for the batter. Rey Navarro, who just got back to the team due to Ryan Flaherty's continuing groin troubles, hit his first major league home run. Check out his grin back in the dugout after hitting it. If that doesn't warm your heart, then I'm sorry to tell you that you have no soul.
O'Day came back out for the ninth and closed out the game to earn his first save of the season. The win pulled the O's within two games of .500 and finally gave them a series win against the Blue Jays.