In one of the more anticipated fan promotions of the year, the Buck Showalter garden gnome provided yet more positive juju for the Orioles, as the Birds completed the series and doubleheader sweep of the Indians, winning 8-0.
Chris Tillman, despite entering the second game of today's double dip with a lofty 6.22 ERA, was magnificent, hurling 7.0 innings, allowing no runs on four hits and six strikeouts. Even better? No walks, just as Ubaldo Jimenez before him in Game 1. Tilly lowered his ERA from 6.22 to 5.67, and managed to latch on to the 8-0 lead his teammates handed to him, unlike his previous performance in Toronto.
The Oriole bats squared off with Toru Murata, who happened to be making his major-league debut. As recent history has proven, the O's tend to struggle with soft-throwing rookies they've never seen before, but tonight was an exception. In the 2nd inning, Travis Snider rolled a semi-hard groundball to second baseman Jason Kipnis, but the oft-reliable Kipnis opted for a backhand play, and the ball subsequently scooted underneath his glove. Of course, J.J. Hardy followed the error with a double to left-center, putting runners in scoring position for Ryan Flaherty, who lined a single to right field, giving the Orioles an early 2-0 lead.
The Orioles' half of the 4th inning turned into a launch party, kicked off by a solo shot from Chris Davis, who sent a fastball from Murata into the right field plaza, extending the Oriole lead to 3-0. After Matt Wieters grounded out, Travis Snider locked on to a mid-60's MPH curveball and sent it into the right-center bleachers, again adding to the Orioles' lead at 4-0.
After walks from both Hardy and David Lough, Mr. Baby-Face himself Manny Machado continued his torrential obliteration of opposing pitching by sending a first-pitch fastball from former Oriole Ryan Webb down the left-field line, scoring both Hardy and Lough, and giving the gnOmes a 6-0 lead. The next batter, Chris Parmelee, capped the run-scoring frenzy with an opposite field two-run bomb, as the Orioles comfortably led 8-0 after the 4th.
Tillman, though sharper than previous starts, was aided on a terrific play from Travis Snider in the top of the 6th, who secured a spot on tonight's episode of Baseball Tonight with this WebGem-worthy grab.
So. Much. Air. pic.twitter.com/EgJAofDyzG
— MLB GIFS (@MLBGIFs) June 29, 2015
Tillman, who was followed by everyone's favorite up-and-down Rule 5 pick T.J. McFarland, pitched well enough to improve to 6-7 on the year. McFarland, who did look like his usual jam-creating self, managed to pitch out of a pair of run-scoring threats. Indians manager Terry Francona made an appearance with two outs in the top 9th, arguing a third-strike call with home plate umpire Ron Kulpa, who eventually game him the heave-ho. McFarland ended the game by inducing a pop-up from Mike Aviles, securing the Orioles' series and doubleheader sweep.
A home run and miraculous grab from Travis Snider earned him the MASN interview, which meant Adam Jones was somewhere waiting with a pie. Turns out it was raspberry.
Adam Jones pies Travis Snider in a gnome hat and #SHOWtheGnome is involved. @SimplyAJ10 @Lunchboxhero45 #Orioles pic.twitter.com/Ji8BVkiUee— Shannon Encina (@ShannonEncina) June 29, 2015
The O's are now 18-5 in their last 23 games, and are a season-high seven games over .500 at 41-34. Oh, after tonight, the Birds are in a first-place tie with the Tampa Bays Rays. Today was fun, Birdland.