Support when it is needed, Orioles Win 5-to-3
Written by Mike Laws
Support when it’s needed
Pair of homers not enough to power Royals
Kansas City 3, Orioles 5
You ever feel like taking this team aside and telling it it’s OK to score runs even when it doesn’t feel threatened? No? Just me? Well, I guess it’s a pretty good problem to have — the kind of mindset that says, “OK, they’re nipping at our heels; better put a couple more on the board, just for good measure.”
It’s something we’ve seen over and over this season, and it continued, pleasingly, with Wednesday night’s win in the middle game against Kansas City. Up a pair courtesy of a second-inning J.J. Hardy foul-pole hugger, and enjoying a fine outing from starter Chris Tillman (who, while lacking his outright best stuff, had permitted only a pair of singles and issued two walks, by the time he’d gotten two out in the fifth), the Birds watched as Alex Gordon, for the second night in a row, deposited a ball over the fence in right, slicing their lead in half.
Their response? Well, we’ll save that for the bullet points. Comin’ right up!
- The Oriole half of the fifth sure wasn’t pretty — at least as far as a Royals fan might’ve been concerned — but it got the job done. There was actually a moment in there I was worried I might be having a flashback to my days covering low-A ball, where defense is of (shall we say) secondary concern, and you see things like a single batted ball that involves three errors. Anyway, with regard to the matter at hand, things started promisingly, with a Chris Dickerson double to right. The Royals should’ve recorded an out on the next Baltimore hitter, Nate McLouth, who grounded to short — except Alcides Escobar, trying valiantly to nab the lead runner, flicked his relay to third into the bottom of a sliding Dickerson’s cleat. Oops. McLouth didn’t even wait a pitch before swiping second, after which Manny Machado whacked a single to left, plating Dickerson and advancing McLouth a bag. 3-1, O’s. Now, then: The following at-bat — Nick Markakis’s — is where things get really headache-inducing, for an official scorer. On the first delivery to the Oriole right fielder, Machado went for second; he probably would’ve been out but for a throw in the dirt from K.C. catcher George Kottaras, which truth be told Escobar did a decent job of even knocking down, lest it bound on into center; but then McLouth took off for the plate, and Escobar, who would’ve had McLouth, probably, with a better throw home, instead committed his (ostensible) second error of the inning, a throw that eluded Kottaras and permitted Machado to scoot into third. Whew. As if that weren’t enough, the very next delivery to Markakis just happened to be a(n extremely) wild pitch, bringing Machado on in. For those of you following along at home, that’s three runs, only one of them earned, on two hits and either two or three errors (with various sources apparently differing on whether to charge two to Escobar and one to Kottaras or just one to Escobar and one to the catcher or … hell, whatever, I give up). 5-1, O’s, after five …
- Good thing, too, because Tillman’s sixth inning of work was even rougher than his fifth. Like the fifth it all started with two down — two quick outs, after which Tillman issued a free pass to Lorenzo Cain and, though he jumped out ahead of Mike Moustakas, nothing-and-two, wound up coughing up a gopher-ball to the Royal third baseman. Moustakas took Tillman out onto the flag court in right, and all of a sudden the margin again stood at two. The Baltimore starter would get out of the sixth — with a little help from Elliot Johnson, who got gunned down idiotically trying to stretch your average run-of-the-mill single to right into a double, for some reason — but Tillman’s evening had come to an end.
- After which, following a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it half-inning from Troy Patton, Darren O’Day came on in the eighth and, after looking brilliant with a pair of swinging strikeouts to start things off, found that he just couldn’t get that squirrely final out. An infield single and HBP later, and with a 3-for-3 Moustakas striding to the dish representing the go-ahead run, O’Day gave way to a Brian Matusz who, by all appearances, wanted some of that instant karma, seeking some atonement for the game-tying two-run shot he’d conceded to Gordon a soggy Charm City evening prior. He needed exactly one pitch to get it, popping Moustakas harmlessly out to Wieters, and this one was a quick Jim Johnson save away from being in the books, and for the Birds.
Visit the Orioles Hangout Message Board