Written by Lee Tackett
The Orioles scored ten unanswered runs after the fifth inning to defeat the Giants 10-2. The Orioles only had one hit through the first five, a Bud Norris single, but chipped away with one in the sixth, took the lead on a J.J. Hardy 2 run home run in the seventh, and pulled away with four in the eighth, and for good measure added three on an Adam Jones home run in the ninth to take the series.
Bud Norris had the kind of first inning that depended entirely on the eye of the beholder. On the positive side, Norris pitched to contact and used the spacious ballpark to his advantage. However, if the glass were half empty, Norris got knocked around to all corners of AT&T Park. Norris tried to attack the Giants lineup with a steady diet of fastballs, but most were left out over the plate and hit with authority. Marco Scutaro started the game with a well-struck ground ball down the first base line for a single. Brandon Crawford followed with a ball to deep left center that looked like extra bases, but Adam Jones avoided the converging Nate McLouth to make the play. Jones would have done well to stay in the same spot for Brandon Belt, who put a ball even deeper into center field for a double. Hunter Pence cashed in Belt on a ball off the bricks in right field before Norris would regroup and get out of the inning. In a different park, the game could have easily been 4-0 with three separate home runs, but Norris limited the damage despite poor command.
Norris labored through the second, third and fourth innings, allowing base runners in each, but relied on his defense to get him through. In the second, after retiring the first two hitters, he allowed a double to Scutaro and a walk to Crawford before Mclouth bailed him out with a sliding catch on a Belt blooper to left center. In the third, Norris was aided by a double play ball to get out of the inning that went Machado to Hardy to Davis Norris allowed base runners in both the third and fourth inning, but got out of each cleanly. Finally in the fifth, Norris was able to work a 3 up 3 down inning and was replaced by a pinch hitter the following frame.
Obviously a five inning start against a light hitting offense is not idea but Norris clearly did not have his best stuff and was fortunate to exit with the game at only 2-0.
The bullpen logged four scoreless innings and gave the offense an opportunity to come back. Troy Patton came on in the sixth and allowed a single, but struck out two to complete his work. Patton defended himself well against right handed hitters, looked confident with his breaking pitches, and earned his second win of the season. Tommy Hunter, Darren O’Day, and Francisco Rodriguez each worked an inning and only Rodriguez allowed a baserunner.
The only noteworthy event from the Orioles offense during the first five innings was Bud Norris helping his own cause with an infield single off of Matt Cain’s glove in the third. Cain worked with his full arsenal of pitches during the game and none of the Orioles hitters were taking good swings. Through the first five, Cain was cruising with a low pitch count and no hitter seemed very comfortable going into a deep count.
Things finally changed in the sixth. Brian Roberts shot the gap in right center to start the sixth inning with a leadoff triple. Buck pinch hit for Norris with Henry Urrutia, who struck out swinging. Nate McLouth had his third good at bat of the night and took a very close 1-2 pitch on the inner half before lining a ball into right to score Roberts. The Orioles continued to threaten, but Adam Jones struck out on his trademark bugaboo, the down and away breaking ball, with men on first and second.
In the seventh, Chris Davis launched a double over Gregor Blanco’s head off the fence in center field to begin the rally. After an unproductive pop up, J.J. Hardy took the first pitch he saw, a hanging breaking ball, over the fence in left field to put the Orioles ahead 3-2, good for his 21st of the year to lead all shortstops.
With Cain out of the game, the Orioles finally experienced some good fortunte in the final innings. Against lefty Jose Mijares, Mclouth drew a tough walk to begin the inning. Manny Machado followed with a bunt to the left of the pitchers mound, probably a 50/50 play if Mijares gives was to the charging Pablo Sandoval, but Mijares barehanded the ball himself and wildly flung it to first, hitting Machado in the back, allowing McLouth to advance to third. Nick Markakis bounced a ball back through the middle, past the drawn in infield to extend the lead and Jones plated Machado with a line drive double off the bag at first. The Giants wanted no part of Chris Davis, but after an intentional walk, Matt Wieters added another single to drive in one. Jones wasn’t through padding his offensive numbers for the day and took Barry Zito deep with a 3 run home run in the ninth, his 24th on the season.
-Jones covered a ton of ground on the Crawford fly ball that he tracked down in the first inning. Given how the rest of the inning transpired, Jones' play was important in keeping the Giants from opening with an extended inning.
-On a stolen base attempt, Hardy was unable to come up with Wieters' throw in the fourth inning that would have gunned down Gregor Blanco.
-Hardy redeemed himself the following inning by traversing half of the diamond to get to a pop up in foul territory.
J.J. Hardy’s home run gave the Orioles life in a game that they really sleepwalked through for the first five innings.
Observations and Musings
-McLouth had five great at bats today. Although he ended up just 1-4 with a walk and two strikeouts, he fought through each at bat and saw a lot of pitches. Against Cain, he was one of the few Orioles hitters to take a good swing against him early in the game.
-Cain looked fantastic early on and it seemed like he was destined to go deep into this game, but with a lineup like the Orioles, this team is truly never out of a game.
-Good to see Brian Roberts barrel two balls today. The triple was almost certainly a home run in almost all other parks.
-The Orioles head to Arizona for a three game series before returning home for a weekend tilt with Colorado.
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