This was the kind of game the Orioles needed to start off this road trip with. The offense played well. Tyler Wilson gave them a good outing and kept the bullpen fresh. And starting off with a win is always a great way to give everyone some confidence for what is a tough stretch, no matter how the opposition may be doing.
The first inning got off to a very fast start. After a fly out by Manny Machado, Parra and Jones singled to put two on base for Chris Davis, who promptly took advantage and homered - just like that, it was O's 3-0. It seemed to me Davis had been hitting better lately, but after looking over his stats that wasn't really the case. His home runs are very slightly up and his strikeouts are very slightly down, but really not to the extent I thought. And a small rise in BAPIP seems to account for his higher average. His RBIs have risen sharply lately I think due to some timely HRs with guys on base, But overall to me it means we can probably expect similar production in August and September: a .250 BA, and 13-15 HRs. I'll take it. Tyler Wilson got out of the bottom of the inning pretty quickly with some help from the defense, giving up just the one hit to Coco Crisp.
In the second, Jonathan Schoop got on after a the A's couldn't field a fly ball, but Caleb Joseph hit into a double play to wipe that out. After a ground out by Machado, the inning was over quickly. Joseph made up for it though in the bottom of the inning when he threw out Brett Lawrie attempting to steal 2nd to record the final out. Wilson ended up at only 24 pitches through two. It's always good to see these guys pitching efficiently. Again, did he get help from the defense? Yes, but that's baseball.
Gerardo Parra showed no signs of slowing down by working a leadoff walk in his second at bat and would come around to score after a long, long, fly ball to center field by Adam Jones. Jones wound up at second but wouldn't come around to score. O's still made it 4-0.
Not content with that score or throwing guys out at second, Caleb Joseph hit a deep home run to left field with Schoop on base to make it 6-0. I say it was deep - not sure of the exact distance but every home run in the stadium seems to travel forever. With two outs in the fourth and a single by Adam Jones, Chavez was pulled from the game after 77 pitches. It started off bad for him and never got better. So - on to the bullpen. Felix Doubront came in to show us the other side of Chris Davis, who struck out to end the inning. But you can't complain when the score is 6-0 after four innings.
A quick note about no play in particular - until this point in the game, Tyler Wilson induced a lot of ground balls and a lot of those went to J.J. Hardy. Hardy put on a show and fielded the balls in spectacular fashion and threw them to first like he had Manny's arm. It was great and if he keeps playing like that for the next couple years that new contract he just signed is going to seem like a huge bargain.
Wilson looked like he was going to have a Bud Norris like meltdown in the bottom of the fourth, and did give up a run when a fly ball fell right in front of Parra (should he have caught it? Probably - but having never played outfield in the major leagues, I can't say for sure), but got out of it mostly unharmed.
Want more scoring? OK. After a single by Hardy in the fifth, Parades hit a double down the third base line that rolled into the outfield corner, giving Hardy plenty of time to score. And then with two outs, Joseph hit a double to score Parades. Make it 8-1 O's.
Not much happened again until the eigth inning...right around the time I was having trouble keeping my eyes open. Schoop hit a leadoff double and then got to third on a Joseph groundball. Manny Machado got in on the action with a single to score Schoop. You have to hand it to Bob Melvin here. All of this happened under Doubront, who came on in the fourth inning to relieve Chavez. But by leaving Doubront in this long, he basically conceded the game to the O's. Of course, when your GM just conceded the season by trading away your closer, utilityman, and 2nd best pitcher...
The A's scored another run in the same kind of lucky way they got thier first. A Steven Vogt double right down the first base line drove in Eric Sogard and drove Tyler Wilson out of the game. No shame for Wilson though - getting the call up for a spot start and knowing he was going to be optioned back down as soon as the game was over resulted in him going 7.2 innings while giving up only two runs. It was a good game, and I'm sure this isn't the last we've seen of him. Mychal 'Untouchable' Givens came in to end the inning and then the game. O's win 9-2.
With this win, the Orioles enter into a tie with the Twins and the Blue Jays for the second wild card spot. I wouldn't look for the Twins to start winning again, but there's still plenty of competion in the AL. Keep it up, guys.